Drama y Luz, Maná
Warner Music Latina, Mexico
By Carlos Reyes
“My brother and my sister don’t speak to me,” sings James Blake in a broken, weeping voice in his 2011 anthem “I Never Learnt To Share.” With the exception of my twin, my brothers and my sisters (all in their 30s) don’t read Club Fonograma (and I honestly couldn’t care less). Before taking this review intro into a juicy Family Feud discussion, let me emphasize the fact that I see my siblings as my immediate references for people with questionable music taste. About a year ago, during a family reunion, I heard people singing in the kitchen. It was them, singing along to “De Musica Ligera.” Afterwards, they discussed how excited they were for their upcoming Phoenix concert. I scratched my head for a second, and there it was: that horrific moment when I confirmed what I already knew, that my dear siblings were the victims of music’s vile stream flow, of the family DJ entrepreneur, and of the local LatinPop FM playlist. Yes, my siblings were holding tickets for Latin pop culture’s most notorious social artifact, The Mana Syndrome.
Working under the same lazy (and still undeveloped) song composition that have made them “rock” superstars for decades, the band, led by Fher Olvera and Alex Gonzalez, brings yet another abominable record stuffed with misfires and unabashed Maná-isms. Drama y Luz, the band’s eighth studio album, sold over 47k copies in its first week, grabbing a Top 5 spot on the Billboard 200 chart and, in the process, becoming the stabbing and shameful blueprint of the Latin Rock arena band. Maná released their debut album in 1987, the year I was born, and have virtually made the same exact album over and over again without any signs of intellectual, structural, or technological progression. First single “Lluvia al Corazón” is “as if God was speaking to me,” says a top comment on YouTube. I’ll overlook the religious inquisition of such comment, and bash on the half-baked inspirational premise that’s ultimately cheap and catastrophic to its own agency. I couldn’t come up with any descriptive words to describe “Latinoamerica,” but that’s the song you’ll hear along with the review, and it’s clearly, the worst song of the year.
Unrelenting melodies without heads or tails, fatiguing adult contemporary hooks, and fudged idealisms of 2011 relevance is what you’ll find through Drama y Luz. Upcoming single “No Te Rindas” is a compromise between the band and its fans on not giving up. Needless to say, I gave up a long time ago. Maná surveys some music texture in “Vuela Libre Paloma” and pushes the right buttons in “El Verdadero Amor,” but they still only sound as good as The Stooges in that horrendous The Weirdness comeback album. For a seemingly social-politically conscious band, it seems they’re pretty indifferent to the creative world around them. In the end, the most interesting idea I could find among this motionless album comes from my own music allusion (and new social media-geekness). As pointed out by almost any mindful publication that has ever published anything on Maná, they’re so resourceful and nature-oriented that they’ve been recycling words in the absence of inspiration. I actually took notes in an attempt to sum up their career vocabulary into a 140-character tweet, but couldn’t. (Maná sucks the creative out of you).
There’s also some puzzling rationale at work if Maná thinks its listeners are on the verge of suicide. That’s a very scary thought considering my brothers and my sisters are fans. But are they really fans? My gut says no, they’re sufferers (not surfers) of the bigger picture and subjects of the mainstream cave. During that family reunion I decided to keep the “It’s SODA STEREO!” comment to myself, maybe as a way to punish them as they anticipated that song to show up during the concert (nothing more cruel than that). Their daughters and sons, however, do read this blog (please keep the secret). And stay away from your parents’ bad habits; you already know Mana isn’t the answer. Perhaps that recent news of Coldplay’s Chris Martin advising Maná not to ever sing in English was actually his scrupulous way to keep the band within our niche’s margins. But it’s too late. The Mana Syndrome is a world phenomenon, an overgrown pimple of our collective consciousness.
Drama y Luz, Maná