NPR logo First Listen: Juana Molina, 'Wed 21'

First Listen: Juana Molina, 'Wed 21'

Wed 21

Audio for first listens is no longer available after the album is released.

Juana Molina's new album, Wed 21, comes out Oct. 28. Marcelo Setton/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Marcelo Setton/Courtesy of the artist

Juana Molina's new album, Wed 21, comes out Oct. 28.

Marcelo Setton/Courtesy of the artist

When Juana Molina decided to abandon a successful career on Argentine television, there were plenty of naysayers. Her brilliant 1996 debut album, Rara (Strange), produced by Argentine music producer Gustavo Santaolalla (composer of the Brokeback Mountain soundtrack), proved them wrong. It reflected her sense of humor (she was a respected comedian) and her musical complexity by combining Argentine folk with hypnotically repetitive electronica beats.

Through superb albums like Una Dia and Son, Molina has garnered a loyal, adoring fan base that crosses cultural barriers.

Recently on NPR's Alt.Latino she spoke about how she layers her music, one element after another, until a structure forms. Case in point: her first single, "Eras," from her much anticipated new album, Wed 21 (out on October 29th). The song immediately washes over you with the trance-like, almost tribal beats she's mastered over the years, and a deep bass line she weaves in and out of with whispering vocals.

Molina's soft-spoken voice has always been the biggest obstacle for me to overcome as a listener, but I've come around to understanding that there is plenty of nuance to it. At times she sounds serene, but in songs like "Eras" there's an exasperation, which is appropriate — this song has an underlying darkness, a frustration. Toward the end she's singing about someone she's been waiting for through many years, many lives even.

In perfect Juana Molina form, the frenetic beat is as insane and darkly hilarious as being stuck in a repetitive situation with someone who is dragging you through the motions for, as she sings, uno, dos, tres ... siete vidas (seven lives).

Purchase Featured Music

Wed 21

Purchase Music

Buy Featured Music

Wed 21
Juana Molina
Crammed Discs

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

We no longer support commenting on stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.