After 25 years and more than a dozen albums, Argentine rockers Los Fabulosos Cadillacs prove they still have what it takes to make you dance. But I can’t help but feel something is missing from the Cadillacs’ latest offering, La Luz del Ritmo. On its own, La Luz stands as a fun mix of genres and styles: cumbias, ska jams, and pop-rock numbers. But the album (a patchwork of five new songs, six remakes, and two covers) lacks the bite of previous discs. Fans of the band’s previous work are likely to be disappointed.
The Cadillacs’ masterwork Fabulosos Calavera (1997) is an album that sounds fresh 12 years later. It is an intense and daring album, a dance party and a head-trip that can be enjoyed by Baby Boomers who grew up with Santana and arty Generation-Y kids who have come of age with The Mars Volta. But La Luz lacks the edge of the Cadillacs’ mid-1990s work. While there is nothing wrong with taking a more mellow approach, it doesn’t quite work for the Cadillacs here, resulting in songs that range from decent to generic to bad (for an example of the bad, listen to their cringe-worthy cover of the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”).
That said, there are a handful of songs on La Luz that I absolutely loved. “Padre Nuestro” is smooth cumbia goodness. When this track came on after a few lackluster songs, my ears perked up and I literally said aloud, “Aw, yeah!” The chorus is catchy as hell, tempting me to sing along while driving. Meanwhile, “El Genio del Dub” mixes enough ’70s funk, salsa, and dub to get you up on your feet, shimmying and shaking. It is frustrating, then, that the same band that plays “El Genio” or the experimental and mournful “Condenaditos” follows it up with the stale “Nosotros Egoistas”, a track that sounds like a sleepy Mighty Mighty Bosstones tribute.
The truth is this: I probably won’t listen to this album in full very often, if at all, but I will include a couple of these songs in a mix CD when I feel like bumping something loud and funky in my car or at a party.