Amadou and Mariam Folila

Amadou and MariamFolila
The blind couple from Mali make un-hateable music. Even though their albums since their worldwide breakout, Dimanche A Bamako (2004,) have felt increasingly contrived, their undeniable zest for the material has redeemed them. Folila delivers a more tricked-out version of Malian blues than Tinariwen, with more English vocals than ever. Oddly electing to go with convicted (now released) killer Bertand Cantat on a full half-dozen songs, screechy, tremolo-ed slide guitar and Cantat's rockist vocals make the album sound like a scrubbed-up Fat Possum recording from the '90s. They sound stadium-ready, as they should, given A&M's ever increasing star power. However, the rhythms and instrumentation are more West African than ever, with djembes and calabash percolating away in the foreground. There's no wretched crossover bait, although Theophilus London and Santigold sound a bit lost on their respective tracks; I prefer less adorned work like "Sans Toi" and "Cherie." This isn't poppier than anything they've done over the past decade or so, but few individual songs stick out like good pop songs should. (Nonesuch)