A Cinematic Experience: The Marías’ Define Themselves in the Pop Music Sector With LP CINEMA

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The Marías’ LP “CINEMA”

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I release clear cling wrap to reveal the incomparable smoothness of the album’s cover art–an image of María Zardoya encompassed in a sea of velvet-curtain red and a stoic, pristinely-white swan perched next to her. Despite my personal discovery of The Marías stemming from a corny dad-joke playing on our shared namesake nearly three years ago, I found myself simmering over with overwhelming excitement and emotion while placing the freshly-pressed vinyl record onto my turntable. The band’s music has held my hand throughout the entirety of my college experience and I was now taking my first listen to their first full-length LP. 

Following two independently released EPs and multiple singles, Los-Angeles based band The Marías’ debut album credits Nice Life Recording Company and widely known Atlantic Recording Corporation within its production notes. Released on the same day as Tyler the Creator’s CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST, The Marías’ 2021 album, CINEMA, held its ground on a busy new-music Friday. 

CINEMA fuses together the drifting, airy notions of the ever popular “bedroom pop” genre of today with cinematic string movements, heavier backing beats reminiscent of current sensations such as Billie Eilish, and monotone wavelengths drawing from Radiohead. It is an all-encompassing representation of the trending aesthetics amongst youthful audiences today while continuing to maintain a unique edge. The Marías continue to forge ahead with their own voice, sound, and image; despite aligning with the trends of the day, is original and concretely fresh. 

Listeners are immediately pulled into the depths of the album upon pressing play. The opening track, a one minute and twenty-three second long instrumental piece entitled “Just a Feeling”, enters the ears and wraps the body into the soft, red velvet curtain. The curtain peels away, revealing the opening scene. It is generic in the most pleasing and Hollywood way; yet it does the job of drawing in the listener. A rapid cut to the album’s second track, “Calling U Back”, whips the listener back to reality. Drummer Josh Conway (also Zardoya’s partner) provides the grooving backbeat that defines the pop group. 

Tracks such as “All I Really Want Is You” and “Spin Me Around” are reminiscent of the group’s previous EPs and singles. Zardoya’s milky vocals pair with chill beats and galaxy-like synth elements to formulate a floating feeling that lets the listener know they can close their eyes and sway. Zardoya, who is Puerto Rican, integrates Spanish lyrics throughout multiple tracks, as she did in previous releases. Instrumental trumpet track “Hable con Ella” recalls the trumpet solos featured in the band’s EPs and memorably in their 2018 single entitled “Cariño”. 

I first listened to CINEMA on Friday morning after the midnight release. Since then, “The Mice Inside This Room” has remained in the forefront of my brain. The track is ever so obviously inspired by Radiohead; of course, this makes sense, as Zardoya has expressed her love for the English rock band on social media. The track’s meter chases you… it is pushing you from behind and it does not stop until the releasing burst at the end of the song. One listens and they are looking over the edge of a cliff. The wind is blowing, yet they never go over. Zardoya’s vocals lay on top of the driving beats with a monotone energy. It is Radiohead’s “All I Need” (off 2007 album In Rainbows) with a cinematic realness to it. The energy shift that “The Mice Inside This Room” brought to the album was memorable and drove a beautiful level of emotion in the album as a whole. 

The placement of fierce, pop-oriented tracks, cinematically intriguing instrumental breaks, and airy, bedroom-pop moments is evidently purposeful and impactful. The album does not slow at any point; just as the drama of a film would do, CINEMA shifts without warning between tracks that gently caress the listeners, tracks that paint detailed portraits within the brain, and tracks that provide elements of surprise. 

The band maintains an iconic visual aesthetic throughout every accompanying factor, such as the short films, merchandise items, and photographic images. The dramatic deep red color featured on the album cover engulfs Zardoya and Conway in the film clips for “Hush” and “Calling U Back”. This same shade of red can also be seen on the band’s early EPs, Superclean, Vol. I and Superclean, Vol. II. Those covers feature rows of red velvet seats and a plush, red velvet couch, respectively. The aesthetic consistency has defined itself as a trademark for the group, building strong visual association and creating an aesthetic foundation for the band’s image. And it all maintains a cinematic vibe, creating a satisfyingly parallel trajectory that grows with the group’s musical work.

CINEMA’s release was triumphant. The Marías are forging their way within the pop music industry. The band keeps up with the desired aesthetics of the young generations while simultaneously and meticulously crafting and defining their own iconic artistic elements.