Babasónicos

Jessico

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If there was any further proof needed that Latin American rock could teach most American bands a lesson, Babasonicos' amazingly entertaining Jessico is it. The Argentinians' sense of wicked humor hasn't diminished at all; consider the bemusingly suggestive cover art, not to mention just going ahead and calling one song "Pendejo." But as always it's the band's command of all sorts of styles wrapped up in an instantly addictive package that really stands out. Nearly ten years in, Babasonicos has the energy and open-mindedness of a young band crossed with the experience of an older one. Consider the opener, "Los Calientes," which has the dark synth energy of prime Depeche Mode -- say "It's No Good," for instance -- crossed with Rodriguez's warm, winning voice, a beautiful concluding orchestral part, and just enough sly funk beats to become its own beast. Throughout the band slips with perfect ease -- arguably even more fascinatingly than, say, Beck -- from yearning, passionate rock to spaghetti western guitar/orchestra to industrial vocal distortion to country twang to some polite MC work to metal-strength riffs. The last element is more cut down from earlier efforts, to be sure -- not quite as many '80s hard rock memories this time around -- but the stomp and grind of "Soy Rock" and the kick-up-your-heels blend of choppy feedback and smooth singing on "La Fox" are beauts. Then there's the part in the middle of "Pendejo" where suddenly everything turns into Black Sabbath-level doom rock of the overlords above, and why the heck not? In the midst of it all are lovely ballads like "El Loco" and the perversely titled but beautifully smooth "Toxica," which shows that Babasonicos knows how to use Argentina's own musical heritage as much as the world's to their own benefit.

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