Bersuit / Bersuit Vergarabat


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Argentina has been a major-league rock en español player thanks to an impressive list of bands that has ranged from los Fabulosos Cadillacs to Babasónicos -- and another band that should be included on that list is Bersuit, who take their share of chances on the ambitious Testosterona. In terms of influences, this 2005 release is all over the place; Testosterona finds the Argentine rockers incorporating everything from reggae, ska, hip-hop, and British punk to South America folk, Dominican merengue, and West African pop. Testosterona is definitely experimental, although not in an abstract or angular way -- and Bersuit's melodies are highly infectious whether they are being moody on "Sencillamente" and "Inundacion" or relentlessly exuberant on "Vamo en la Salud," "La Flor de Mis Heridas," and "O Vas a Misa." A recurring theme on this album is freedom -- personal freedom, political freedom, freedom from oppressive social conditions. And on "El la Ribera," Bersuit describes the oppressive poverty and desperate conditions that trouble an indigenous region of Argentina. The South American country's problems are also examined on "Me Duele Festejar"; the English translation of that title is "It Hurts to Celebrate," and Bersuit is reflecting on how difficult it is to have any piece of mind when one's country is experiencing such bad economic troubles (after suffering a major economic collapse in 2001, Argentina was plagued by very high unemployment, a major increase in violent crime, and a frightening wave of kidnappings). Because Bersuit uses a lot of regional Argentine slang, non-Argentine listeners may have a hard time understanding some of the lyrics -- even if they speak a lot of Spanish. This CD is full of Argentine expressions that someone from, say, Mexico or El Salvador may be unfamiliar with (just as regional Australian slang isn't something Canadians are surrounded by in Toronto). Nonetheless, Testosterona is an exciting demonstration of what Bersuit had to offer creatively in the mid-2000s.

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