This Time

Los Lobos started out playing weddings in East Los Angeles, a career phase that culminated with a hit cover of "La Bamba." In the decade since, they've been making music for the postnuptial stragglers and burrowing into the subconscious. Teamed once again with sonic chemists Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake, the quintet continues to expand the acid-tweaked atmosphere of its 1992 masterpiece, Kiko. Conventionally structured songs were at the core of Kiko's experiments, but those tunes are becoming increasingly hard to find as the Lobos spin off projects and solo releases multiply (Latin Playboys, David Hidalgo's Houndog, Cesar Rosas' Soul Disguise). Now the lyrics are more allusive and open-ended ("How come the days do what they do?" Hidalgo mutters on the title song), and the dance floor has never seemed a more subversive place: the Colombian shuffle of "Cumbia Raza," the New Orleans stagger of "Oh, Yeah," the queasy swamp rock of "Viking." Rock's most metaphysical party band strikes again.

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