Café Tacuba have never fully employed a drum kit during their decade-plus dominion over musical ingenuity in the Western Hemisphere, instead relying on a fabulously talented drum box when pummeling was needed. But you'll wish that los tacubos had brandished drums a bit more in previous albums after listening to the tumbling idiosyncrasy of Cuatro Caminos, the first complete effort of the Latin alternative avatars since their 1999 double-disc oddity Revés/Yosoy. The specialties of their sound—Elfego Buendía's annoying-in-an-endearing-way screech, Joselo Rangel's crystalline guitar thoughts, and an adventurous spirit that yells from every chintzy melody—are still as restless as ever. There's also enough electronic loopiness on Cuatro Caminos to mark it as Tacuba territory—check out the blips on the half surf-rock parody, half Clinic rip-off "Eo" that gurgle like the soundtrack to an early '80s arcade game. But now presenting themselves are ambitious backbeats that frolic through the electronic playground that Café Tacuba adores. Consequently, bona-fide rockers finally abound in the Tacuba canon—the barreling "Qué Pasará" ("What Will Happen," which in a surprising twist allows charging jaranas to take over the percussive section for the conclusion), the joyously choppy "Soy o Estoy" ("I Am or I'm At"), and "Hoy Es" ("Today Is"), an anthem that rivals Ravel's "Bolero" for escalating madness. The years have steered Café Tacuba away from the Mexican rhythms that made them famous, but it's okay—they adopt a new vision for every album, and Cuatro Caminos continues their streak of never having failed.
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