The title for the fifth long-player from this Brooklyn-based
quartet can translate into the interrogatory “where are you from,” and the
question seems mostly directed inward. Forgoing some of the tense indie rock of
Cordero’s recent discs En Este Momento or Lamb Lost In the City, singer Ani
Cordero digs deep into her Puerto Rican heritage, exploring the most
straightforward Latin songs and beats the band has yet to record. For the first
time, too, the songs are all sung in Spanish, but it goes deeper than that.
Disc-opener “Quique” is an up-tempo dance number, all deep rhythms,
organ washes, and pumped-up bass-lines in keeping with a sweltering San Juan
evening; “La Yuega” is accordion-accented Cuban son, while the Spanish
guitar-and-maracas of “El Arco Iris” features a mixed samba/bossa nova beat. Occasionally
you feel caught between two competing worlds, though not because of what Rock En Espanol aficionados might deem
cultural prejudice; mostly it’s that the band’s straight-up indie rock here
(“La Musica Es La Medicina,” “Fin Del Mundo”) reads very ordinary, in turn heightens
the exotica attached to the songs with a Latin sensibility.
Two of the best moments come when the band melds both worlds
into something that winds up favoring neither, such as when the brass boosts
the Calexico-guitars of “Abre La Ventana,” or bowed bass haunts the melancholic
“Guardasecretos.” Otherwise, it’s the traditional sounds here that most
impress. The record whips past at long-EP speed (just over half-an-hour),
suggesting what feels like a trial balloon as Cordero determines not so much
where they’re from, but where they’re going.
Tracks: “Quique,” “Abre La Ventana” JOHN SCHACHT