Nortec Collective Presents Clorofila
Nacional Records, México
by Andrew Casillas
The guys in Nortec Collective are anything if not consistent. Whether you’re defining consistency in terms of aesthetics, purpose, or method of execution, they’ve developed one of the more definite and conspicuous styles of any major group of musicians working today. Suffice it to say, Corridos Urbanos, a “solo” effort from member Clorofila, doesn’t exactly break the Nortec mold. Yet, surprisingly, it’s as fully-shaped a record as anything else the group has ever released.
If last year’s Tijuana Sound Machine album (credited to members Bostich and Fussible) played to the gold chain-wearing, polished shoe, gelled-up hair club crowd, Corridos Urbanos is tailored for those folks who don’t feel the need to pay a cover charge. Kicking off with the exemplary “Discoteca Nacional,” Clorofila’s mix instantaneously sets a precise and appropriate vibe that’s carried through the album’s entirety. The track is a dark, hip-breaking, bass heavy stuff that isn’t made for your typical stereos; no, this seems best suited to the super-charged subs and tweeters of a modified Dodge Ram. Many of the other songs on the album (“Arriba El Novio,” “El General,” “Llantera”) share this same foundation, but none of these compares to the sheer likeability of the opener.
Perhaps the most noticeable improvement that Clorofila’s mix has on other Nortec Collective albums lies in its utilization of vocals. Typically, vocals on a Nortec album have as much value as straight men in a Pedro Almodóvar film—yeah they’re there, but you really have no reason to pay any attention to them. But Corridos Urbanos actually expands the singer’s role on two songs and the album benefits greatly because of this. “BabyRock Rock” adds an indie edge to the Nortec sound (along with post-punk bassline!), while closer “Babai” provides a touching slice of lament and proper dénouement to the whole festivities. It’s really a shame that these are the only two tracks with entire lyrics.
If there are any real complaints about this record, it’s probably the length of the mix, which goes on for almost an hour. This sort of length wouldn’t be a problem if not for the album’s monotonous middle section, which another solid lyrical song may have salvaged a bit. But that’s not a terminal flaw, because really, this is as good a Nortec Collective album as one could wish for all of these years since they emerged on the scene. It’s clear that these guys will never recapture that feeling of innovation and uniqueness as they did a decade ago but, if anything, it’s great to see that they’re still damn good at what they do.