Maldita Vecindad y Los Hijos del Quinto Patio were one of the first and best "Latin alternative" bands; rocketing out of Mexico at the end of the 1980s, their swirling mix of rock, ska, funk, punk, Afro-pop, rap, and Mexican music was utterly new and impossible to resist, especially if one was already a fan of groups like Fishbone and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Their self-titled 1988 debut and 1991's classic Circo brought them to the attention of English-speaking audiences; they co-headlined shows with Jane's Addiction in Los Angeles and filmed a performance for Perry Farrell's ill-fated movie Gift. They continued to release albums and tour throughout the 1990s, but then in 1998, following the wildly ambitious Mostros, they faded away. Now, after more than a decade, they've returned with an album that's as political and dancefloor/mosh pit-friendly as anything from their back catalog. The piercing saxophone and churning rhythms are instantly recognizable, as are the trademark shifts from funk to Mexican folk to ska to metal and around the circle again. Time doesn't seem to have mellowed the group a bit; lyrically, the album is biting and perceptive, but as witty as the music. "Corrido Para Digna Ochoa" is a tribute to a human rights activist murdered in 2001; "Pura Diversión" uses soccer as an anti-capitalist metaphor; "Expedientes Marcianos" tackles global warming. They also pay tribute to their own history with "Quinto Patio Ska." Circular Colectivo is a nonstop party of an album that proves Maldita Vecindad are as artistically vital as at any point in their history.
AllMusic Review by Phil Freeman