Gogol Bordello is back with its sixth CD, its first in three years. The gypsy punk masters are just as high-energy and over the top as ever, but the familiar band message of tearing down the borders, defying institutions, and embracing personal freedom is even more clear on Pura Vida Conspiracy.
The CD is still non-stop and group leader Eugene Hutz still delivers the lyrics with extreme enthusiasm. There seems to be a bit more structure to the songs than in the past, when the combination of Hutz’s thick accent combined with the frenetic guitars, violins, drums, accordion, and horns could just roll right over the listener and obscure the lyrics entirely.
The difference is not extreme. The CD still flaunts the same influences of mad, swirling gypsy music, Eastern European folk music, punk, bits of ska, and even blues, which still create a joyous overload that would overpower any vocalist less frenetic than Hutz. But the music is a tiny bit more restrained and the vocals a bit more conversational this time. When Hutz sings “Borders are scars on the face of the planet” in “We Rise Again,” the message from this Ukranian who spent years as a refugee in Western Europe before coming to America rings clear.
Another message comes through in “Dig Deep Enough” with the lyric, “We who seek long enough, dig deep enough, find a diamond in the rough one day.” That’s the sort of optimistic and unifying message Gogol Bordello always preaches and now we can all hear it a little better.
Of course, Hutz’s lyrics express other emotions, too, such as anger over lost places and lost innocence in “Lost Innocent World.” They also share glimpses of European folk life in songs like “Malandrino,” in which two midwives converse with the singer’s mother at his birth. The songs evoke humor, joy, anger, sadness, and hope that all the outsiders in the world, no matter who or where in the world, can all band together and be free.
Gogol Bordello continues to be unique in music. Their sound is unlike any other. People either love them or hate them but their music is not likely to leave anyone indifferent. If you have loved them in the past, you will enjoy Pura Vida Conspiracy. For this reviewer, it is their best work yet.