Los Lobos: This Time (Hollywood 62185)
This Time marks seven years and counting since the rebirth of one of L.A.’s proudest musical exports. In 1992, with the release of Kiko, The Wolves had packed in the roots rock that had become their signature sound and headed on down the highway of the subconscious. The five musicians who had started out playing weddings were suddenly masters of the way-out, stream-of-consciousness frontiersmen who layered sonic experiment after sonic experiment over conventional songcraft.
With This Time, Los Lobos continue their odyssey toward the far reaches of modern music. Only thing is, coming hot on the heels of a slew of spin off projects and solo releases (Latin Playboys, David Hidalgo’s Houndog, and Caesar Rosas’ Soul Disguise), the album reveals a band that increasingly rids itself of conventional songcraft altogether. Open-ended, allusive lyrics (“How come the days do what they do?”) give way to a tangle of rhythms that involve the listener like never before. Take the Colombian shuffle of “Cumbia Raza” or the Nawlins stagger that is “Oh, Yeah.” Oh no, background music this is not; it’s a long-player that pleads to be engaged with at every level. This time that’s what The Wolves demand. And it’s worth the investment.