Ligabue

Arrivederci, Mostro!

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From his beginnings in 1990 as Italy's humble answer to Bruce Springsteen's everyman arena-sized rock, Ligabue has never drastically altered his formula. Over time, he has managed to remain contemporary simply by adding a smart touch of reverb/delay to his guitars, recasting his rock & roll anthems in a U2 or early Radiohead manner. Other than that, it is still the same catchy riff intros, the same IV/V chord progressions climaxing in consistently rousing choruses, plus a few ballads thrown in for good measure. Amazingly, as stereotypical as the formula may sound, with the right songs and the right charisma it still packs a wallop every single time. Such is exactly the case with Arrivederci, Mostro!, Ligabue's long-awaited new album after 2005's superb Nome e Cognome. At least half the album faultlessly recycles the recipe described above, including the three-song take-no-prisoners opening salvo of "Quando Canterai la Tua Canzone," "La Linea Sottile," and "Nel Tempo"; the first single, "Un Colpo All'Anima"; and the terrific closer, "Il Meglio Deve Ancora Venire." The rest is perhaps not always as effective but arguably even more interesting as Ligabue takes a few chances, such as the amusing romp "Taca Banda" (featuring his 11-year-old son on drums!), the open letter to idol Francesco Guccini "Caro il Mio Francesco," an unprecedented (for Ligabue) tirade against the Italian music industry that explicitly revisits Guccini's classic "L'Avvelenata," and "Quando Mi Vieni a Prendere," a song inspired by a real-life tragedy that took place in Belgium in 2009, when a madman broke into a childcare center and stabbed to death two children and a teacher. A deeply disturbing seven-minute narrative told from the point of view of one of the children witnessing the event, it is the most harrowing song Ligabue is ever likely to write. It is also profoundly compelling at an emotional level -- which comes as no surprise since establishing an emotional bond between singer and audience is exactly what Ligabue excels at as a songwriter and performer. In this and in every other respect, Arrivederci, Mostro! offers ample proof that Ligabue is celebrating 20 years of his career at the top of his game.

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