Las Kumbia Queers

Pecados Tropicales

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The Argentine/Mexican sextet that is Las Kumbia Queers know what they want and how to get it -- namely that there is more than enough room for snot-art-trash-punk in the 21st century and that there's even more room for it when the roots of the group lie in self-conscious reclamation and subversion of cumbia. On their third album -- and first to feature original compositions instead of the partial Nouvelle Vague approach they used in the past via constant cover versions -- Las Kumbia Queers create something that feels like it could be a great compilation or collection of various acts throwing in, a universe all its own where the core cumbia rhythm is relentless but rarely left to simply play out untouched. Aside from "In the Mood for Love," a collaboration with Scream Club, they stick to their native Spanish without apology -- hearing them sing the Spanish for "heart" as "cor-A-zooooooon" on the stylish "Motochorra" is just one moment of many that show the benefit of knowing what they're singing about. Even more so when the lyrics trade off like "¡Te quiero/Te odio!" ("I love you, I hate you!") on "Metamorfosis Adolescente" -- it's a simple reversal, but performed thrillingly. There's full-on synth disco on "Patricia," pop-punk on "Caballo Viejo" and more, but the cumbia core never completely retreats, the band playing around as it goes, whether it's the guitar/synth crunch on "Gascón," the slower hip-hop ballad feeling of "Quizas Mañana," or how "El Resplandor" has the voice and keyboard wheeze sliding past each other on the verse, a nice shading.

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