Of all the bands that got attention during the boom of the pop-punk and Drive-Thru Records era, I always thought that Fenix TX didn’t get enough love. Their self-titled debut (after their official name change) launched their first legitimate hit in “All My Fault” and had several other tracks on the album that could’ve been just as successful with the right commercial push. Lechuza brought some added pressure since they were expected to outsell their MCA/Drive-Thru Records debut and take their sound to new and exciting directions. They officially kicked off this era of the band with the single, “Threesome” that received moderate MTV2 video airplay and some success with the Warped Tour crowd. With great guitar work, solid pop hooks, and a fresh sound to go into this album cycle, why did Lechuza not get the same amount of attention as their colleagues on the same label?
It’s kind of puzzling to me that the band didn’t take off more with the great opening song in “Phoebe Cates,” as front-man Will Salazar carefully crooned over his crush on the actress. In the second verse he confesses, “I’ve been in love since the day I saw fast times / It’s on a permanent rewind and can you guess my favorite part / I used to like tossing off to her pool scene / Now I’m kissing TV screens / She’s the only star who’s touched my heart on,” and the clever nods to her films in the lyrics made for a great way to start a new era for the band. The track received some decent placement in coming of age comedies like American Pie 2, where the song also appeared on the official movie soundtrack.
”Katie W” follows the great opener with more scorned lover lyrics like, “I met her before you, she wore the sweetest perfume / Her scent reminds me of our first date / I still taste our last kiss / Her name still falls from my lips / She burns just like an old flame.” The crunchy guitar riffs from James Love and Salazar played well enough off of each other to make for an enjoyable listening experience to build up to the main single of “Threesome.” It’s on this particular song that Fenix TX allows the song to slowly build to a speedy chorus of, “Let’s try this all again only faster now / Now go ahead and pretend I’m your master now / And if you want to dance, if she wants to lead / I’ll go out of my way, I’ll do anything / And one word is all I need,” and they had just enough magic to ensure this song would stand out from the rest of the material sandwiched in the album sequencing.
Some of the heavier and more aggressive material on the record (like “Something Bad is Gonna Happen” and “Beating a Dead Horse”) didn’t seem to gel as well with the melodic pop-punk that headed to the airwaves, and I think that’s possibly what detracted from the overall legacy of Lechuza. While the band showcased their wide breadth of styles and tempo changes in many of their songs, the ideas they came up with on these two heavier songs could have been more fleshed out for a better impact.
Ballads like “Tearjerker” hit their intended heart strings as Salazar sings earnestly on the opening verse, “Picture’s on the wall just waiting there to fall / Still remind me that painful holiday can almost hear you say / Please don’t miss me too long / What did I do wrong / Could’ve sung a different song, you were my tune / Make my heart believe a want is not a need / And I’m all right without you / The days go by the nights don’t change / The stars still spell out your name.” It’s one of those songs that could’ve been just as successful as the main singles with the right type of commercial placement in a movie to bring out the key emotions conveyed.
My personal favorite on the album comes in the form of “A Song For Everyone,” which I strongly believe is the best song Fenix TX has ever written. It features some great pop-punk songwriting and is reminiscent of The Ataris’ now-classic material found on So Long, Astoria. Salazar sings on the second verse with steadfast energy, “You deserve more than this packing guilt for a trip / I never thought that I would get this far / Searching for the words to say / Summer wind, desert stars / All of this could be yours / You know it only takes two words and we’ll both be on our way.” It’s very surprising to me that this song also didn’t get the commercial push that the other Drive-Thru bands were getting to make Fenix TX more of a household name.
With so much strong material going in the band’s favor on Lechuza I still am puzzled by the lack of label promotion of this great album. I mentioned some of the weaker spots of the record coming in the form of the aggressive material, but if you listen to this record front to back, you can get a sense of what Fenix TX was going for when they set out to make this. It features everything we have come to expect from a pop-punk band; from the heart on our sleeve lyrics, to well thought out pop hooks, all along with great melodies, and it’s clear to see why so many fans of the “Drive-Thru era” of pop-punk still reference Lechuza as an influential album to this day.