Los Fabulosos Cadillacs

Los Fabulosos Calaveras

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Arguably the most focused, self-assured record of their career, Fabulosos Calavera shows the Cadillacs incorporating the hardest, heaviest guitar rock they've ever played into their usual mélange of ska, reggae, Caribbean, and Latin rhythms. The band draws its sound from all over the place (salsa legend Ruben Blades appears on one track), but the songwriting is superbly honed -- there seem to be no fat or extraneous parts in any of the album's 13 tracks. "Surfer Calavera" mixes thrash, funk, reggae, and harmony vocals into the album's most infectious track, while "El Carnicero de Giles/Sueno" goes from jazzy beatnik poetry to pounding speed metal. ("Howen" even flirts with Western and Mariachi music) Rather than being distracting, however, such stylistic shifts enhance the energy and highlight the emotional contrasts of the music. Its seeming dark edges are leavened with a warm, wry humor that appears everywhere (including the album's cover art, which is black and features multiple skulls and keletons, but seems downright cheerful rather than foreboding). Fabulosos Calavera demonstrates that it is possible to have fun and give listeners plenty to chew on motionally. 12 years into their career, they made their most successful record yet.

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