Monday, August 20, 2007

Gogol Bordello - Super Taranta

Download: Gogol Bordello - "Wonderlust King"
Download: Gogol Bordello - "Alcohol"
Download: Gogol Bordello - "American Wedding"

Oh, Gogol Bordello. Will you ever cease to impress me and make me wish I could summon a dance pit in the middle of my living room?

The answer is no.

The gypsy punk freak show is back - and in top form - on Super Taranta, which dropped last month. The album is fantastic. One of my initial doubts about Gogol Bordello's explosion in popularity last year was that they'd end up being the import novelty of the month, never really coming into their own as a group, and simply freezing in a loop of time-tested tricks. On Super Taranta, the groups avoids Matisyahu-it is and shows that they have the potential to become a mainstay in the American music scene. After all, they actually have a whole lot of talent and don't abuse their fans nearly as badly as Lily Allen.

The record maintains Gogol's "everything-but-the-kitchen-sink" style of instrumentation on Super Taranta. The mayhem generated by the sheer volume of things going on at once in their songs has always been one of my favorite things about the band. Where other groups just pile on instruments to cover for shoddy songwriting, Gogol really uses them to weave together tons of melodies to create a powerful, staggering whole. And, even through the mayhem, anyone can recognize the catchy, pop brilliance below. The band draws a lot of comparisons to The Pogues because of their use of musical styles native to their homeland, but in terms of writing solid pop songs steeped in traditional sounds, I would say they're more the Flogging Molly of Eastern Europe. (They actually remind me a good deal of a harder, Eastern European We All Have Hooks For Hands, as well.)

So, they've got mayhem and pop sensibilities. But the wonders never cease. Gogol Bordello also has great lyrics. Yeah, a lot of them are about pretty stupid things like the lack of vodka at American weddings, but they're exciting and accessible. Pitchfork described their music as a "superficial rush," and for the most part, that's true. But it's a cleverly spun, energetic, chaotic superficial rush. Super Taranta! is a record you can put on and have a good time with without having to invest too deeply on an emotional or attentive level, and I think that's a good thing every now and then.

(April Wright)

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9:36 AM  

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