If there’s one thing missing from these progressive and mindful times, it’s a healthy dose of nihilism. For that reason, I was excited to hear Mexican Radio’s “Night of the Nihilist” for the first time and glad it didn’t disappoint.
The song opens with a couple of bars of four-on-the-floor kick drum. A vibrant red, pulsating lightning bolt at this point in the music video might convince you you’re about to listen to the White Stripes. Within the first few bars, singers Nathaniel Fregoso and Dyan Valdes trade the title back and forth a few times, before the main hook kicks in on synth. It’s clear these guys don’t like to beat around the bush.
With just one chord, one riff and a basic groove, the band do well to keep you engaged for four minutes. Between each vocal line we get our hook, adorned with distorted drum machine sounds and fuller drums and vocals. The way the vocals are traded back and forth seems to vary every time, and each voice is equally committed to the attitude. The lyrics are beautifully simple and repetitive. There’s something powerful about hearing “I don’t believe” and the word “hedonism” edited to repeat like dance hooks. The more unwieldy lines sound like the product of a well-read, politically minded James Murphy.
The video is super cool too. Think Scott Pilgrim style scratchy animation with bold Soviet overtones (possibly a nod to Fregoso’s interests in the work of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky). Red, black and white are undeniably powerful colours that have been mostly out of the game since the early 2000’s gave us the likes of the White Stripes, Green Day and Queens of the Stone Age. But it looks good on these guys, and they might just pack the power to pull it off.
This is definitely a band to keep your eyes on. Their new album “Destruction/Reconstruction” is out on 20th September 2019 via R.I.P. Ben Lee Records. Pick it up and shake your nihilistic hips.
Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a ‘recovering musician’, he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.