Oro is the sophomore album by Bengala, the band that could be Mexico’s answer to Kings of Leon, which entitles many things: unexpected shifts in their dialogue & target, moments of brilliance, moments of exhausted archetype and especially the itchy feeling to be seen as the next great band. Media and critics have been graceful commenting this is one of the few notable bands that actually sounds like a rock band; that’s marginally true, we can’t call them alternative although they’re taking steps to sound a bit experimental. Bengala is heading to massive audiences with every intention to get it right; they’re keeping their fans happy and acquiring new ones, the sound is certainly there but the songs fall short, there’s something blocking them from melody, too much moist and stiffness this time around.
The first single “Carcel” quickly establishes the soaring fest for which one must be prepared, vocalist Diego Suarez sings as aggressive as Saul Hernandez (in Jaguares). The single does make him shine in all glory, commanding a breakup song to its most revolting sides; sorry females, we can expose our feelings graphically too, and this is the perfect song to finally replace the disgusting and so-called classic “La Planta” by Caos, which guys have on a pedestal but it’s one of the most annoying songs ever. I prefer Bengala in melancholic songs like “Cosas Infinitas” (from the Bajo la Sal soundtrack), “Corto Cartucho” or “A Veces”, even if they sound like they belong to Zoe’s galaxy. The most interesting track here is “Fuiste”, which unpredictably features Madam Daniela Romo, a very pleasant surprise because I’m a fan of hers, she fully embraces the 80s popstar, except that people never took her seriously, luckily fresh faces like Javiera Mena and Maria Daniela y Su Sonido Lasser are not letting her songs dissolve anytime soon. I can’t picture Romo knowing about the band beforehand, but accepting to collaborate is a blast, just like her hair.
I can’t say they’re stepping backwards because it’s obvious they were searching for this level of severity in their music, but I am missing the non-conceiving personality from their first album Bengala, it might be that Emmanuel del Real is only supervising the album and not being part of its production, this time the guy on the job was left on the hands of Tito from Molotov. But Meme isn’t entirely absent from this project as he provides the very best song on the album, “Oro” is a bighearted moment with similar riffs to Café Tacvba’s “Volver a Comenzar”, the heart of the album and a track that could’ve made their debut album even harder to surpass, you know, along with “Mal Incurable” or “Carretera.” There’s nothing as good as “Sex on Fire”, but Oro is better than Only by the Night and a continuation of a band that has fully integrated to Mexico’s music industry, that is along with the Zoes, Bunkers, and Tacvbos.