Celtas Cortos

40 de Abril

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Throughout its 20-plus year career, Celtas Cortos made a habit of tweaking lineups and stylistic orientations. After the tepid reception of their last studio albums, 40 de Abril was ostensibly conceived as a return to roots, in more ways than one. First of all, its title is a wink to "20 de Abril," one of the band's first hits and signature songs. More importantly, talismanic vocalist and lyricist Jesús "Cifu" Cifuentes, who had left in 2002 to pursue a solo career, is back in the frontman role. Finally, the flirtings with flamenco, reggae, or electronica have all but disappeared in favor of what the band claims represents their original identity, i.e. the mixture of Celtic instruments and melodies with straight-ahead 1970s rock & roll. The songs in 40 de Abril are exactly that: feisty rock tunes filled with bluesy riffs in the manner of Led Zeppelin or The Rolling Stones, intercut with solo leads and instrumental interludes played on the gaita, whistles, and violins. A ballad here and there for a change of pace, and then back to the fast, swirling lines that make up most of this record. Nowhere is Celtas Cortos' characteristic blend better achieved than in the three instrumental tracks, arguably the album's highlights. A very curious version of Björk's "Hyperballad," renamed "Abismo" and made virtually unrecognizable by its Spanish lyrics and standard rock instrumentation plus accordion, is also included -- perhaps to suggest that the band has not entirely lost its more adventurous edge? At any rate, in 40 de Abril Celtas Cortos seem to have preferred to play it safe and concentrate on making an accomplished, pleasant, and consistent album. It certainly helped them to regain their audience, as the album did very well on the Spanish charts.

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