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Music

Kinky: Sueño de la Machina

Wake up and smell the café, norteamericanos -- Kinky is back with their best one yet.


Kinky

Sueño de la Machina

Label: Nacional
US Release Date: 2012-07-17
UK Release Date: 2012-07-17
Amazon
iTunes

The Mexican band Kinky has always been an intriguing band...and a slightly frustrating one. They have always been capable of coming up with likeable and danceable -- and licenseable -- tunes at a moment's notice; their very first record featured "Más," which is still played on TV shows and in video games all over the place.

But all the best jams on that first album were tempered with boring exercises in downtempo alt.rock. Each of the other records since then have stuck to the same template: big songs mixed with minor ones, an inability to commit to either raising hell or changing direction. Following them has been a slightly frustrating experience -- were these albums really underachieving, or was I simply asking too much from Kinky and should just shut up and dance when they let me?

The issue has been resolved with Sueño de la Machina, their first LP in three years. Here, all the questions have been resolved, or at least swept aside by their emerging popcraft... or maybe I'm not such a tightass anymore, that's also a possibility.

But this record is just flat-out fun from beginning to end, even when the tempos slow down. They've nailed the formula, to stunning effect. The squelchy synthesizer hooks of "Perfecta", which might once have dominated the entire song, soon fade into the background, replaced by crooning, loosely-rapped verses, anthemic sections, and an introspective bridge -- all punctuated with Omar Góngora's muscular drum fills.

The splendidly-named "Tripolar" does the same thing, except that it starts as a straight-up New Order rip and transmogrifies into a twisted reggaetón/cumbia hybrid. "Alma de Neón" hauls out the big fat synth Dead or Alive hooks, combining them with snarling guitar from Carlos Chairez. There's even a chaotic bit about two-thirds of the way through that reminds me of early Roxy Music.

(Actually, if there is even a little bit of a criticism here, it's that Kinky might do a bit better to hide their jacks and "influences" -- but that is the kind of caviling that would have come from the younger me. Older me doesn't really care. Too busy dancing.)

On top of it all, of course, are Gil Cerezo's soaring vocals. Cerezo can do a number of things with his voice, including hit some damned fine falsetto. This time around, he seems to have learned about it a bit more as an instrument rather than just a way to communicate lyrics. This is literally true on "Intoxícame", where his tones are seized by the keyboards and flipped, dub-style, into instrumental stings. (Not sure the dubstep excursions of "Control" are a great sign, though.)

All in all, not a radical departure for Kinky -- excellent opener "Inmóvil" could have appeared on Atlas or Barracuda. But a couple of these tracks, like the late-game barnburner "Se Borró la Noche" with its big ol' breakdowns, seem to indicate that Kinky still have some cool new ideas to offer us. Better wake up and stop trying to pretend that Brooklyn is the be-all and end-all, norteamericanos; you're gonna miss all the fun.

8

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