As the title ”III” suggests this is the third album from hardcore band The Bronx‘s El Mariachi alter-ego. A project that for me has held greater interest as I have always enjoyed traditional mariachi music, whereas hardcore has seldom been my scene. However, as much as I enjoyed previous album “II” it left me wondering as to the long term artistic viability of the project. “II” was another very straight set of mariachi tunes, which despite the traditional tragedy and heartache in the lyrics were pitched in a very frothy, clean manner with very little grit or invention to add depth to the admittedly beautiful listening experience. I was afraid “III” would be pleasant but more of the same. Luckily the band have thought along same lines and “III” introduces small elements of electronica and smart studio trickery to make this album a different beast, modernising the genre whilst keeping all the wonderful colour that makes the style appealing.The song writing again is excellent with many of these songs lodged in my brain almost from the first listen.
Clues to change are there from the off with first number ‘New Beat’ which dots glitchy electronic counterpoints to the swell of the trumpets and the dancing acoustic guitars.
No extra adornment is actually needed for next track ‘Wildfires’ being one of the most gorgeous, uplifting pieces of music released this year, although the theme of fire destroying and thus cleansing and renewing may be significant.
A production that mimics the lyric ‘echo all your faith in god son/destroy all the lives you can‘ on ‘Sticks and Stones’ which has cavernous echoing backing vocals and strange metallic scraping noises best shows the bands new direction, mixing a killer tune, traditional mariachi flair and darker and more modern tones. Frankly, it’s musical alchemy of the highest order.There are so many moments of joy on this album; the harp playing on ‘Raise The Dead’ , the way the trumpets rise to lift the mood of the muted ‘Eternal’, the thumping great guitarron pulse of ‘Everything Twice’ and the vocal breakdown on the same song… Oh, I could go on!
Suffice to say that if you are a fan of the band then you won’t be disappointed, and if you’re not yet a fan then it’s time you were as everyone needs a little Mariachi El Bronx in their life.