It’s easy to assume that after spending over a decade away from a band, the members might have gotten a little less angry. If any group are evidence of the opposite, however, it’s Desaparecidos. After all, with their politically-supercharged debut effort ‘Read Music / Speak Spanish’ being released in the still-fresh wake of the September 11th tragedy, they made quite the name for themselves while causing quite the backlash. Some twelve years later, they band are back together - after never officially calling it quits – and they’re sounding just as pissed off as they did the first time around.
Reuniting back in 2010 for a one-off performance at Omaha’s Concert for Equality seemed to be the redefining moment of the band. Not only did it see the group rekindle their childhood friendships, but it offered up a new agenda that’s shaped their sophomore record. This is a full-length that punches with one hand and offers help with the other. It shapes noise, aggression and disillusionment – of which, lyrically, there’s plenty – and gives it a platform, a chance to be heard.
Granted, there are recognisable offerings – the Sheriff Joe Arpaio-inspired ‘MariKKKopa’ was one of four tracks to be released on EPs within the past three years – but their familiarity doesn’t dull their bite. If anything, the full-length does them more justice. The music itself is gut-wrenchingly satisfying; guttural guitars and pounding drums punctuate most of the songs while Conor Oberst’s raw screamed vocals transform him into the perfect carnage-provoking ring leader.
Yet, even within the chaos, there are shimmers of light. While Desaparecidos are unrelentingly boisterous, they somehow manage to make it feel completely joyous. Even Oberst’s accepting shout of “We’re doomed!” towards the end of ‘The Left Is Right’ is less doom-and-gloom and more hopeful. This is an album designed to move people, and ‘Payola’ manages to do so in so very many ways.
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