Plan9 Music

La Radiolina
Artist: Manu Chao
Format: CD
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It's tempting to say that Manu Chao speaks a language all his own. But to many of his fellow cosmopolitans, there's nothing foreign or indecipherable about his m√lange of Spanish, French, English and whatever other scraps of communication he's accumulated in his pan-global travels. The same could be said for his beat, anchored by a Euro-reggae lilt as changeable as a radio dial and as far-ranging as well.

La Radiolina isn't quite as perfect as its predecessor, Proxima Estación: Esperanza, which marked the moment Chao's rhythms, politics and infectious good will coalesced into something idiosyncratic yet accessible. The mood here is darker, whether Chao intones about "George Bush / Watching everything," outlines the way political machinations cause destruction on "Politik Kills," or, on the lead single "Rainin' in Paradize," catalogs a series of African and Arab nations and explains why they are "no good place to be."

In short, this is less a follow-up to Proxima Estación and more a follow-up to Dimanche à Bamako, the fantastic 2005 disc that Chao produced for the blind West African married duo Amadou and Miriam. As with that album, La Radiolina captures the manic excitement of globalization in its glossy textures, easy tunefulness and light-footed beat; it also captures the paranoia and free-floating fears of globalization that whirl beneath that attractive surface. Manu Chao has given up on the promise of cosmopolitanism, but he's certainly more realistic about the political turmoil that accompanies the process.


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