Ozomatli – Fire Away
Mon 10th May, 2010 Music Reviews 1074 viewsin
‘Sneak attack’: that’s the best way to describe Ozomatli’s fifth album. I listened to it once and have to admit wasn’t really impressed. Expecting tracks like 1999’s Cumbia De Los Muertos or 2004’s Believe, the album opens with the typically fun Latino sound the band generally push, called Are You Ready? And I was – but not for the rock and roll-inspired Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah and the slow ballads of Love Comes Down and It’s Only Time.
It just wasn’t what I expected Ozomatli to sound like through listening to their previous albums, and especially after catching their live show a few weeks ago. However, on subsequent listens, I started to really enjoy the album. It’s catchy as hell, and although it’s not completely in-your-face party Latino all the time, the blend of influences from ‘50s rock to Latino funk to hip hop is great to listen to, even with their overtly political lyrics.
Gay Vatos In Love, a song about being open about being gay, is a prime example of what I mean. Although it’s quite overt in its lyrical content, the ‘50s-styled rock ballad will have you humming on the bus. It’s Only Paper is a different take on the theme of how money changes people. Here Ozomatli argue that if you change into an asshole because of money, it’s your fault because of the choices you make – because, after all, money is just paper. Likewise Malagasy Shock, inspired by lead singer Raul Pachecho’s electrocution on stage in Madagascar, is life-affirming fun.
There are other tracks which are more in line with the Ozomatli you expect. Elysian Persuasion is funky as hell. The Louie Louie inspired Nadas Por Free is a lesson of fun in Spanglish, and Caballito would be perfect in a Loony Toons cartoon featuring Speedy Gonzales.
After my initial shock, I find that I’m not disappointed in the album in the slightest. In fact, I think the variety Ozomatli presents increases my appreciation of the band substantially. They pull off the different styles successfully, without demeaning themselves or the music.
Fire Away is out on Mercer Street through Inertia.