A Propósito

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Over the first decade of the 21st century, Babasónicos seem to have reached a creative plateau -- yet it is a high plateau, and they feel truly comfortable on it. But for the inclusion of the ten-minute dance rave "Muñeco de Haití" (a concession to the band's electro party credentials, split into three different parts) stuck in the middle of the track list, A Propósito repeats the concise formula of 2008's Mucho, and comes up with another absolute winner. Ten great new songs and a 40-minute running time: game, set, and match for Babasónicos. In another tour de force of decadent elegance, the arrangements are as subtle as they are precious. If the band has taken a step back from the limelight, abandoning schizoid experimentation for languid mannerism, the voice and lyrics of leader Adrián Dargelos dominate the album like never before. Gamely, he obliges with one of his greatest overall performances yet, his trademark petulant sneer being tempered with just the right amount of emotional candor, an addictive combination that crawls under your skin, stays there long after the record has ended, and demands the pleasure of repeated listening. On top of that, the lyrics -- typically exploring the sexual and sentimental dysfunctions of the jaded urbanite -- may very well be the finest of any Babasónicos album. Patricio Rey y Sus Redonditos de Ricota fans will cringe at the thought, but verses such as "Solo un paranoico podria invitarte/A una performance de payasos del arte/Comerciando cantidades/De acciones de materia gris/Ahora dejame que me engañe a mi mismo/Entiendo que no soy de fiar/Ahora dejame que maneje un sauna/Y me vista de fauno, no lo tomes mal," from the outstanding opener "Flora y Fauno," are a dead ringer for the postmodern poetry of Indio Solari -- and, it must be admitted, as equally impressive. Other highlights? "Barranca Abajo," the leadoff single "Deshoras" -- but that is merely picking personal favorites. The truth is, the entire album is splendid, as well as a class apart from the formulaic humdrum of most contemporary Latin music. Never mind the language barrier; this is earnestly recommended to fans of great, intelligent pop music anywhere in the world.

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