Home Artists, Mexico
By Carlos Reyes
It seemed impossible, but Zoe has surprised us with a brilliant follow up to Memo Rex Comander y El Corazon Atomico de la Via Lactea, I’m not kidding, this is their fourth and best LP yet. I don’t know if Zoe will ever transcend as much as Café Tacvba, but they already are the most popular band in Mexico and along with Austin TV the most important (but hardly the best). Reptilectric is the rhythmic burst consolidation of a cosmos they have been referring to in Rocanlover (2003), The Room EP (2005), and Memo Rex... (2006). The comparisons with Gustavo Cerati and Radiohead will continue, but this guys are spacing up roads for themselves. They are setting up parameters for a constant musical search, Reptilectric isn’t divergent or explorative, but it is a consummation album, calling it mature wouldn’t be enough, it’s the emancipation of lyrics and sound and especially a coordination on how to accommodate sound and silence.
An album defined by guitar riffs and electronic add-ons, round and bold throughout and even glossily dramatic. In spite of the overall bustling intensity, this is the most sober and finest hour of Zoe yet. I loved the catchiness of the last album’s singles, but the new material is a succession of soft dynamic melodies that are naturally memorable. Reptilectric should give Zoe enough critical glamour and importance as what Hombre Sintetizador did to the now dispersed Zurdok. At first listen the single didn’t make any sense to me, I tried to Google it and it seems Zoe has invented a word/species/new god? : reptile + electric. “Reptilectric, welcome to earth”, the song goes from confusion to illusion, seems like Zoe is waiting for the arrival of a prophet from another galaxy. As if they run out of patience with other gods and have transported themselves to a new cosmos; they ask for more love and less pain, to make them forget about everything that makes suffering. I like this new messiah, this “messenger of light”.
In songs like “No Hay Dolor” and “Nada” there is an overlapping execution that grabs your attention only to dissolve in the space of cosmic harmonies. Vocalist Leon Larregui extends vocal fading and accentuates the melodies, very much like Gustavo Cerati was able to achieve in his splendid Ahi Vamos. A song such as “Poli” would be easily overlooked, but unlike most rock albums this year, there is actual emotional tissue connecting all tracks, a roundness I couldn’t find in any of their previous works. The most unexpected song here is “Fantasma”, call me crazy but this piece sounds like a synth-powered Tejano song, just not colorful enough to be instrumented with an accordion. Next is “Luna”, a sublime piece in which they ask the moon for gentle acts of existence, for a kiss that will last until death.
Reptilectric has form; the album cover suggests it is a prismatic album. It is indeed a polished jewel and the entering of light is definitely felt, even more as it is sunlight coming in other than artificial lighting. The album retains colors, frictions, vibrations and musical notes in a clever musical projection. Another record produced by Phil Vinal (Radiohead, Placebo & Pulp), the band really had a huge shift from their first electrified rock offerings to a much firm state of astronomical cosmos. It took a while for Memo Rex… to be released in the states; Zoe is a sure success in Mexico, but a risky band outside home, so it might take a few months for us to get a physical edition of one of the best rock albums of the year.