Ska music has followed an unusual path, constantly redefining itself within the context of various cultural frameworks, first in Jamaica, then England, the United States, and several other more far-flung locales. Los Fabulosos Cadillacs brought the exciting, danceable sound (and its attendant iconic fashions) to mid-'80s Argentina, and in the process combined it with hip-hop, electronic dance music, samba, and other Latin styles. Along the way, the group collaborated with everyone from the Talking Heads to the Clash to Flaco Jiménez, but then went on hiatus for close to six years. 2008 saw Los Fabulous Cadillacs return to the scene in full force, and El Arte de La Elegancia de LFC is the second studio effort from the newly energized unit. The album features re-recorded versions of older songs, a couple of brand new tunes, and a groovy Spanish-language cover of Curtis Mayfield's "Move on Up" (retitled "Vamos Ya") that sounds like something Santana might have recorded during the Shango era. Vintage tunes such as "El Sonido Joven de America" and "Contrabando de Amor," in particular, benefit from fuller production and more relaxed ensemble playing -- in both cases the manic ska-punk energy is toned down a bit, but the new approach gives the tracks a more solid, danceable vibe. Other numbers are re-imagined even more significantly; "Surfer Calavera" is largely stripped of its thrash metal component, only to be recast as a Farfisa organ-driven beat number. The new songs recall Los Fabulosos Cadillacs' classic sound: new wave-informed, high-energy modern ska. "Siete Jinetes" sounds like it could have been released on the Two-Tone label circa 1979, while "Lanzallamas," is a mix of Latin music and mod-ish, Motown-influenced R&B which recalls the Jam's The Gift. While perhaps not as essential a release as many of the group's older albums, El Arte de La Elegancia de LFC was a welcome return to form.
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AllMusic Review by Pemberton Roach