Monday, December 3, 2007

Mexicans Do It Better

I have no idea how this happened, but I am nearly two months late to hear the new Cafe Tacuba record. Considering that I have all their albums, have seen them live five times and over four years have passed since Cuatro Caminos, there really is no excuse for me not to have heard SiNo the day it came out (or even before). Needless to say, I have nobody but myself to blame for this embarrassing oversight.

Anyway, one of the things I love about this band (and the primary reason why every one of their releases should be considered an event) is their fearless knack for reinvention. Much like Radiohead, U2 and David Bowie to the English-speaking world, Cafe Tacuba is one of the rare super groups who are not afraid to embrace new genres or sounds even if it means they may lose fans over it. And make no mistake about it, these dudes are HUGE throughout Latin America. But with a fanbase that measures in the millions, they never make music with the intention to please anybody but themselves. The fact that SiNo contains so much to love is only an ancillary, yet welcome, benefit for the fans.

In terms of abstract experimentation, Cafe Tacuba doesn't take monumental leaps forward on this record like it did on their masterpiece Cuatro Caminos, instead they just went went out a created an album full of well crafted pop music. Of course, their version of "pop" still manages to deviate from the mean significantly as they frequently blend elements from a host of musical genres. The best example is the standout track "Volver a Comenzar" (To Begin Again), which is like a tribute to Brian Wilson on top of a New Wave keyboard riff and a funk bass line. On "53100" the band can be heard doing their best impression of The Who's "We Won't Get Fooled Again", while on "El Outsider" a Salsa-infused Hip-Hop beat anchors one of the catchiest songs in their entire catalog. 

In years past the allure of Cafe Tacuba's albums was that they showcased their diverse spectrum of musical colors. On SiNo the focus is on the band members and their maturity as a four piece rock band. After spending the past 15 years marveling their superior talent, perhaps the time is right to start fawning over their incredible chemistry.

Cafe Tacuba - Assorted songs off SiNo (MySpace)

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