European superstar Manu Chao has long gotten by on writing simple repetitive melodies with simple repetitive lyrics, making it, if nothing else, easy for his international audience to sing along, no matter their native language. So it is not particularly surprisingly he follows the same pattern on his fourth studio full-length, Radiolina, ...
European superstar Manu Chao has long gotten by on writing simple repetitive melodies with simple repetitive lyrics, making it, if nothing else, easy for his international audience to sing along, no matter their native language. So it is not particularly surprisingly he follows the same pattern on his fourth studio full-length, Radiolina, recycling not only musical and lyrical phrases throughout the actual album, but also borrowing from his previous work. " Infinita tristeza !" he wails, alluding to an older track of the same name, in "Tristeza Malera" -- sadness being a common theme for Chao alongside government and marijuana -- while "Rainin in Paradize" incorporates the line "This world go crazy, it's an atrocity," substituting the "atrocity" for the "emergency" in "Mr. Marley." Even more overt are the melodic reappearances that occur during Radiolina: "The Bleedin Clown," "Otro Mundo," "13 Diàs," and "Rainin in Paradize" all appear at least twice in the record, and while this does create a kind of continuity, it also drags the songs down, making everything seem a little trite. It's not that this should be unexpected: this is Chao's modus operandi , so to speak, and it's worked well for him, giving him a recognizable sound and approach that is appreciated by fans worldwide. But ironically, the biggest problem with the album is that it doesn't sound enough like the artist, like he knew he had to offer something different but wasn't exactly sure how to go about it, and so his experiments with bluesy country ("13 Diás," "Besoin de la Lune") and electric guitar-driven polished rock ("Y Ahora Qué," "Rainin in Paradize") seem a little forced and inauthentic. Certainly there are good songs -- "La Vida Tombola," which references Argentine soccer hero Diego Maradona and his (in)famous "Hand of God" goal against England in the 1986 World Cup, or "Politik Kills," which takes a classic reggae-inspired Chao beat alongside provocative lyrics -- but there's also, at 21 tracks, a lot of filler, filler that gets boring, too much like the artist and too much unlike the artist at the same time, making for an album that, despite its best efforts, can't quite figure itself out. ~ Marisa Brown, Rovi