Mexico's Café Tacuba (also known as "Tacvba") hasn't released a new album since 2007's Sino, but they came back with a vengeance. Reuniting with Oscar- and Golden Globe-winner Gustavo Santaolalla as producer and Aníbal Kerpel as engineer and co-producer (the men behind their best albums), with mixing by the legendary Joe Chiccarelli (U2, Beck, White Stripes), the "Tacubos" deliver one of their strongest albums ever. This one includes many firsts for the band: the multi-layered two-part vocal harmonies in opener "Pájaros," the Andean air of "Olita de altamar" (with a ukulele that sounds like a charango), and a unique live recording process that sounds as clean as their cleanest studio album. No clapping, no public, heard on this jewel, even though the four members recorded the all-new tracks facing each other before small or medium-sized audiences at venues and clubs in Santiago (Chile), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Mexico City, and Los Angeles. El objeto antes llamado disco ("The Object Previously Known as Record") also marks the return to the drummer-less format of their first three albums (acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, bass, and programming) after a few albums with real drums that added rawness to their sound. Instead of going back to basics, though, the band feels renewed and comfortable experimenting with rock and electronica in ways so far removed from their "La ingrata" polka days in the mid-'90s, yet it all sounds like Café Tacuba: great melodies, tasteful arrangements, and lyrics that simultaneously live in sublime and mundane worlds. It is a personal, ambitious album that experiments without ever losing its pop sensibility and accessibility. It grooves and it rocks, and at a mere 10 songs it makes you want to go back to it over and over again.
★★★★ (out of 5 stars)