Manu Chao La Radiolina

It’s been six long years since France native Manu Chao and his Radio Bemba Sound System crew dropped their last international release, and the ever-increasing craziness of the world Chao sang so endearingly about on Próxima Estación has brought a noticeable sense of urgency to their sound this time around. The "peace and love” reggae vibe of times past is replaced on latest set La Radiolina by driving guitar licks and desperate political statements, with the police sirens and propulsive rock backbeats of cuts like "Raisin In Paradise” and "Panik Panik” sharing space with brief respite offering moments like the Latin plucking and Mexican horns of the plaintive "Mala Fama” and "Otro Mundo.” A recurring theme of hopeless struggle runs through the record, with messages of war, injustice and indifference adding poignancy to the front-man’s varied sonic experiments. Though Chao’s tendency to reuse the same, or incredibly similar, compositions with different lyrics for multiple album tracks does get a little repetitive, the overall arrangements remain fresh and show that what the singer has to say is still worth being heard. (Radio Bemba)