From the first fiddle-and-accordion notes of “Did It All”, the first track of Seekers and Finders, Gogol Bordello, that irrepressible band of self-proclaimed immigrant punks, is triumphant. “We did it all,” sings Eugene Hütz over and over, and he’s absolutely right: it’s almost been 20 years since the band first brought Eastern European sounds to New York’s art rock scene with 1999’s Voi-La Intruder, and while Seekers and Finders has more sober, thoughtful moments than it does fireworks, Gogol Bordello still mixes up some truly ecstatic anarchy.
Tastes of outlaw country drive the album onward, the perfect fit for Gogol Bordello’s nomadic soul. “I’m a son of tumbleweed,” starts low-key track “Clearvoyance”, sung from the point of view of a world wanderer. “Besides my love to share / I ain’t got nothing to declare,” Hütz continues, in perhaps one of the most succinct summaries of the border-free philosophy key to so many of the group’s songs. On “Familia Bonfireball”, a killer guitar twang accompanies lyrics about life, found family, and togetherness; for Gogol Bordello, home is where the heart is, and both are constantly moving.
Midtempo cuts tend to move at a steady canter. Regina Spektor features on the title track “Seekers and Finders”, a powerful near-ballad that sees Spektor’s and Hütz’s equally strong and distinct voices in a driving duet, riding forward into the sunset. Single “Walking on the Burning Coal” features cowboy showdown-ready trumpet flourishes throughout (courtesy of Manu Chao collaborator Roy Paci) that rise alongside vocals and dramatic fiddles, taking a song that starts with a simple swagger and making it into an intricate dance between the many nimble instruments in Gogol Bordello’s repertoire.
Of course, there’s nothing Gogol Bordello plays with more aplomb than high-speed, free-spirited punk rock, and the band finally reaches full power on fiery “Saboteur Blues”, where electric guitar growls, violin shrieks, and Hütz makes vocal leap after leap in fitful euphoria. “Love Gangsters” follows, riding the previous track’s elation in chorus after chorus of “Love gangsters!”
Tender “If I Ever Get Home Before Dark” sees Gogol Bordello’s ever-present rawness turn into intense vulnerability. It’s a much-needed cool note no less authentic than the keener tracks that precede it, bringing feeling to the forefront before the upbeat “You Know Who We Are” sees all musicians at their strongest and closing track “Still That Way” turns the table on reminiscing by keeping both feet firmly in the present: “Remember times when the colors were brighter / And streets were filled with easy rhyme? / It is still that way if you ask about it.”
Gogol Bordello has always been a fantastic patchwork; while Hütz might be the face of the group, each member is a star, every instrument appreciated by every musician in a way that truly makes the band feel like the proud, multicultural family it is. This is a band filled with unstoppable energy. Seekers and Finders is yet another display of lyrical and melodic depth that proves the group is still in explosive form—and intends to stay that way.
// Sound Affects
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