I have to admit that - up until now - I kinda underestimated the importance of Café Tacvba. You have to forgive me: my first contact with latin music was only four years ago, when the hype following their 2003 masterpiece Cuatro Caminos was settled down, and the band members decided to take a sabbatical. Proof: when I dared to write the band had dissolved in this post, irate reactions of the extensive 'cafeta' fanbase followed.
No, Café Tacvba is very much alive, and they are probably Mexico's single most important rock band. Since 1989, they've been the missing link between rock and Mexican folk (Re, 1992), the best cover band of the continent (Avalancha De Exitos, 1996), Grammy winners with instrumental art-pop (Reves/YoSoy, 1999), and the Mexican answer to Radiohead (Cuatro Caminos, 2003). They're the most diverse band in latin rock history - and that's still an understatement.
Sino, the first Café Tacvba album in four years, is another example of the constant evolution that marks their career. Folk elements are rare, and the combination of lead guitarist Joselo Rangel and drummer Victor Indrizzo (Beck) leads to stormy rock explosions ("De Acuerdo"). Gone is the somewhat cheesy pop of hit single "Eres", but instead we hear powerful guitar songs. There's even room for experimental ("Arrulo") and epic stadium rock ("Esta Vez"). What stays, are the existentialist lyrics, and the feeling that you're listening to something truly great.
The album opens delicately, with a soft piano and a fragile Meme building up the tension, until "Tengo Todo" breaks loose: a beautiful pop song, adding some Beatles psychidelica near the end. "53100" makes me think of "No Surprises" (there's that Radiohead comparison again..) while "Y Es Que..." has a very Catupecu Machu harmonica melody. And "El Outsider" adds some funky electro bleeps, while lead vocalist Ruben Albarrán declares himself the number one individualist.
I could write a whole page on "Volver A Comenzar" alone, the sublime first single. It's an eight-minute epic of 80s disco dancerock (New Order, Depeche Mode) interrupted by an acoustic chill moment. The chorus rocks, and the band sings great. It's only matched by "Esta Vez": equally epic, the same touching lyrics. A calm and melodic start soon derails into a rock classic worthy of Muse (or for the older readers: quite reminiscent of Led Zeppelin). In short: two rock gems you need to download ASAP.
But these two songs alone can't give you an impression of the whole album... so much is happening here, between The Who (experimental jam "Gracias") and The Beach Boys (the harmonic "Quiero Ver") is a disc with nothing but highlights. Maybe the four 'tacubos' aren't the most technical singers, they solve that by variation (all of them take the role of lead singer), and they are genious musicians who write indestructible songs. The most exciting album of the year.
Café Tacvba - Volver A Comenzar
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Café Tacvba - Esta Vez
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