100% Yugoslavia, distilled and repackaged
When it comes to lyrics and the international market, different bands handle the language barrier in different ways – sticking to their native tongue no matter what, adopting a foreign one, translating their songs, going full-on instrumental…
Slovenians Čao Portorož decided to more or less ignore the issue, often resorting to a hodgepodge of exclamations to get the point across, supplemented by multilingual lyrics. And it works! The resulting songs are bold and joyous, permeated by a sense of DIY resourcefulness that brings to mind the golden days of rock, punk and synth-pop in Yugoslavia – unsurprisingly, a time and place where language was a similar mishmash.
Far from being a nostalgic tribute act, however, the quartet take past references and mould them into punchy 21st-century hits that will have you perming up your hair in no time. Across three albums, they’ve expanded their tongue-in-cheek garage raucousness with synth lines and electronic texture, yet the attitude remains the same. Be bold, stay fresh, expect the unexpected, but above all, we’re all just here to have a good time.
At the risk of sounding like an old fogey, theirs is a music that belongs to the clubs that made you fall in love with music in the first place. Not the slick, hi-tech auditorium-laboratoriums of today, but the grimy dives with exposed walls, sticky floors and under-the-counter moonshine, where every song was an adventure and you never knew what was going to hit you next. You could be sure it was going to be good, though.