Político, Mexican Institute of Sound
Nacional Records, Mexico
by Andrew Casillas
I’m 27 years old now, which is relatively young in the large scope of demographics, but relatively old in the land of Internet rock-crit. I’ve also begun the transition from listening and enjoying “Losing My Edge,” to actually living the damn song. With your 3Ball and your Ases Falsos and everything else I like but can’t fully represent because it’s “for the kids.” And that’s fine—it doesn’t take any enjoyment out of any great music made by 90’s children. But when a musician long since seen as uncool makes a great record about a weighty adult issue, it only makes those “out-of-touch” feelings seem like common chattel.
That musician: Camilo Lara, better known as Mexican Institute of Sound. Bursting onto the scene at the height of the George W. years, MIS was the super producer that Iberoamerican pop had been craving for years. The indelible, crate-robbing samples and funky beats became progressively less off-kilter and more straightforward as the time passed, to the point where his music has the fit the straightforward, middle of the road identity commonly attributed to his label, Nacional.
But on his latest album, Político, Mexican Institute of Sound becomes the Mexican Institute of Sound. The record announces its theme fairly explicitly, even quoting the Mexican national anthem on its first single. Político centers itself around the pervasive corruption embedded in many facets of Mexican government and the police power. The record doesn’t aim to “solve” anything, though. If you’re interested in the message (especially if you live in Mexico or follow the news very carefully), there are some enlightening takeaways.
But me telling you that Político is most interesting if you’re a politico is like me telling you that a U.S. Supreme Court opinion is most interesting if you give more than two shits about jurisprudence. HOW ARE THE TUNES, amirite? Well, there are some great ones on here. Lara junks the faux-retro grooves and thick bass for traditional Mexican instrumentation, anonymous (uncleared?) samples, and pinball machines—definitely a more analog aesthetic. “Revolución!” moves like a train through hellfire and b-boy schtick. “México” sounds like “Where It’s At” filtered through kush and tapatío. And “Es-Toy” sounds like a fucking CARNIVAL—and Goddamn is that amazing. If the lyrics didn’t sound so serious all the time, you could probably get away with playing the whole thing at your tía’s birthday party.
And that’s the best thing about Político. Lara has finally conceived a record that’s entirely on his terms, infused with his idiosyncrasies and personal beliefs—but it still delivers one hell of a party. It may not be for everyone—and there’s certainly a few bits that could easily turn off the unfamiliar (the entire last quarter of the album specifically), but this ain’t no big tent. This is a great record. That’s really all I need to say.