Al Mar
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  • Manel
  • Al Mar
  • Released in: 2013

Catalan band Manel made their breakthrough with this song, "Al Mar," which captures the fun-loving, relaxed, Mediterranean spirit of the group's sound.

REVIEW BY Cristina Lliteras Music EXPERT
Review posted: 23/10/2013

"Al Mar" (To the Sea) was the single that helped the band Manel become one of the biggest successes in Catalan music during the last few years. Its combination of pop and folk music with sweet and simple lyrics sums up the Mediterranean spirit of this Catalan group. Manel have been likened to other popular acts, such as Els Amics de les Arts or La Iaia. Their style follows a new trend in Barcelona, a city that each year has less and less to do with Madrid, the Spanish capital, as it struggles to align itself with Berlin and London instead. Hipsters from all over the world flood into this beautiful city in northeastern Spain, full of foreign students who rush to find a hedonistic lifestyle.

"Manel have become one of the biggest successes in Catalan music during the last few years."

Al Mar is a good example of what this Barcelona fever means. A bass guitar repeats some humble chords, and then a low voice fills the soundscape with descriptions of everyday activities, preceded by "tu i jo” (you and me). This is exactly Manel's philosophy: chilled music, love, and daily life, bringing together the art of small pleasures. This particular song is a tale narrated in first-person by a man who is sad about not having bathed in the sea with the “you” in the song. He reflects on their times eating at good restaurants, dancing next to the light of a lantern and driving around in a Ford Fiesta. He goes on to say that, even though they have had their heads full of birds while on a Ferris wheel, they have never bathed in the sea.

In the second verse, the man remembers his time on the beach with "her," describing every single detail: "tovalloles" (towels), "gelat" (ice-cream), "juguem amb alegria" (joyful play), "horitzó" (the horizon), "cal" (a small bay), "nens" (kids), "sorra" (sand), "calor" (heat), "banyador" (swimsuits), and "aigua" (water). These are the enchanting words surrounding a “spectacular” woman, lying "llarga i blanqueta” (long and white) on the sand while reading in the shade.

"This song mirrors exactly the kind of simple and reflective things that Manel loves to sing about."

In the final verse, the man returns to present-day reality. He is alone, thinking about "her" and about his wish of sharing the sea with her. He then continues to dream, but this time not reflecting on the past but on some other later time when they might travel to a small and secluded town away from the coasts of Catalonia. He imagines a bar on the sand, a xiringuito surrounded by four pines, where he plans to take her with his motorbike. The imagery remains the same. Again, it is just “you and me” sitting on the “counter of a bar” with “nice music... in front of the sea,” which mimics his earlier memories.

That is the end of this lonely man’s dream. He couldn’t find the time to do such a simple thing as bathing in the sea, but he longs for such a moment to happen. This song mirrors exactly the kind of simple and reflective things that Manel loves to sing about, making his pop-folk songs beautifully relevant in and out of Catalonia.


Tu i jo hem sopat en bons restaurants,
tu i jo hem ballat a la llum d’un fanal,
tu i jo volavem en un Ford Fiesta groc,
tu i jo hem cantat a la vora del foc,
tu i jo hem buscat coses similars,
tu i jo hem tingut el cap ple de pardals,
tu i jo dalt de la nòria,
tu i jo i la nostra història,
però tu i jo no ens hem banyat mai al mar, al mar, al mar…

Plantem les tovalloles, convido a un gelat,
juguem a pala grega, esquivem passejants.
A l’horitzó es divisen les veles
d’uns nens que fan optimist a la cala del costat.
Dormo una estona, a la que bufa la mar,
així estirada se’t veu espectacular
llarga i blanqueta a la sorra llegint
intrigues vaticanes de final inesperat.
Es abusiva tanta calor.
T’incorpores i et poses bé el banyador,
amb el peu calcules com està l’aigua
i tot esta llest per tal que entrem al mar.

Així doncs si un dia vens i passes per aquí,
i sí malgrat la feina trobem un matí,
no em perdonaria mai, no podria assumir,
no agafar-te amb la moto i que no fessim camí,
molt lluny d’aquí, a l’altra banda del món,
hi ha un xiringuito amb quatre pins al fons,
tu i jo asseguts a la barra d’un bar,
sona bona música i som davant del mar.



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