While Los Tigres del Norte were widely celebrated for their 2011 live offering MTV Unplugged: Los Tigres del Norte and Friends, it had already been two years since they had released new studio material. Issued in 2010, El Rugido de Los Tigres del Norte was a compilation of previously released recordings from earlier in the 21st century. That makes Realidades the legendary norteño band's first set of brand-new songs in half a decade. It was worth the wait. The album's title is sobering, underscored by the set's devastating first single, "La Bala," about a seven-year-old child accidentally killed by a troubled teen. Musically, Los Tigres del Norte have remained very close to their tradition and root sound. They are uniquely gifted as storytellers when interpreting others' songs. This is reflected in "Historias de Ciudad" (on the two-disc Deluxe Edition), "La Jefa del Jefe," and the reading of Teodoro Bello's brilliant "El Gallo del Mojado." When assembled, the songs on Realidades offer portraits of life in North American cities from Harlem to Miami, from San Juan to Detroit, from Sinaloa to Los Angeles. But Los Tigres del Norte go deeper than sensationalist tabloid headlines, and their manner of playing and singing reveals the depth of emotion behind the narrative occurrences in the lyrics as they juxtapose narcocorridos and tableaus of gritty criminal life with notions of familial and romantic love -- as in the songs "Hoy le Hablo a Diario," "Así Es el Amor," the romantic "Era Diferente," and the heartbreaking "Necesitamos Conversar." As such, Realidades offers a 360-degree view of modern life that is beyond two-dimensional interpretations. The flavors of sweetness and bitterness, celebration and tragedy, and joy and heartache are all delivered with the soul and conviction that make Los Tigres del Norte so relevant to generation after generation.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek