In “Always Choose Wrong,” the new single from Spain’s Terrorists of Romance (the formal vehicle through which Vanessa Salvi is releasing her work), retro alternative rock gets a polished upgrade courtesy of some atmospheric harmonies, piercing melodicism and stereophonic surrealism, but while it’s one of the more experimental tracks of its kind I’ve had the chance of looking at lately, it’s anything but inaccessible. On the contrary, “Always Choose Wrong” feels more like a pop tune with a heavy metal mentality in its construction, allowing for it to appeal to the casual listener as much as it would the devoted rocker.
The beat in the chorus is just about impossible to get out of your head once you’ve heard it for the first time, and though it isn’t saturated in a lot of external frills on the soundboard, it still manages to hit us with a wallop of intensity when all the chips are on the table. There’s an argument to be made that the drums are expressing as much emotion as Salvi is with her voice, lending agency to the verses with a distinctive groove more evocative than words could ever be.
Vanessa Salvi’s vocal is reminiscent of iconic Seattle singer Carrie Akre in “Always Choose Wrong,” but I don’t think I would classify the track as being a throwback to proto-grunge per-say. There’s definitely a strong nod to the sludgy undertow of bass synonymous with acts like the Melvins and Hammerbox, but the stylization of the hook has a lot more in common with contemporary pop/rock themes than it does anything pre-21st century. Terrorists of Romance can’t be accused of leaning on the past to make a big statement about the future, but it’s undisputable that the project is wearing its influences on its sleeve in its first official album, After You Left.
While this song might not be the most elaborate of those found on its parent record, it’s probably the most radio-friendly of the bunch. The slick grooves and acidic guitar parts flow into each other seamlessly, and while the scooped EQ on the vocal is definitely a lot more muscular than I was expecting it to be, it only adds to the throttling echo of the verses positively. Some serious time and thought went into making “Always Choose Wrong” everything that it could be, and yet nothing about its substance feels compromisingly overdone.
Terrorists of Romance is a fresh name in the spotlight right now, but with a sound like this, it’s safe to say that Vanessa Salvi is poised to keep her brand in the headlines for the foreseeable future. She’s got a lot of natural talent that isn’t being over-exploited here, and with a little more cultivation of her finer points, I think she’s going to make a really big impact both in Spain and overseas in the United States. Alternative rock needs a new face in the mix at the moment, and from where I sit, she seems like the right person to take up that role.