However you look at it, 2004 was a good year for duranguense -- an exuberant style of regional Mexican music that originated in Durango, Mexico, but has been performed and recorded in many other places (some in Mexico, some in the southwestern United States). Mexican-friendly labels signed their share of duranguense artists, duranguense compilations were plentiful, and duranguense performances weren't hard to find on Spanish-language television (at least on the programs that are mindful of Mexican audiences). One of the many duranguense outfits that was active in 2004 was Bandidos Musical, whose En Realidad isn't the absolute best that duranguense has to offer but is still a respectable and satisfying example of the style. Conceptually, duranguense has a variety of faces; while someone like El Cugar has brought a romantic sophistication to duranguense -- he is the duranguense equivalent of José José, Juan Gabriel, or Julio Iglesias -- Bandidos Musical have no problem approaching duranguense as party music. A festive, party-like atmosphere prevails on exuberant tracks like "Mango Manila," "El Tamarindo," and "La Chica Bom-Bom," which isn't to say that En Realidad is an exercise in total escapism. Regional Mexican music, like country, has long been full of lyrics dealing with loss, disappointment, disillusionment, and heartache; that is true of everything from mariachi to banda to norteño to Tejano. And Bandidos Musical certainly don't perform happy, escapist, ultra-cheerful lyrics 100 percent of the time; one of the highlights of this CD is a duranguense arrangement of Gilberto Parra Paz's familiar "Que Dios Te Perdone." But despite having its share of melancholy lyrics, En Realidad is so full of exuberance that it ultimately pushes the smile button -- and while this half-hour CD won't go down in history as one of duranguense's five-star masterpieces, it deserves to be acknowledged as solid and noteworthy.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson