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Ozomatli - Don't Mess With The Dragon

Ozomatli, Don't Mess With The Dragon

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

THERE’S no denying the infectious energy of Ozomatli’s latest album Don’t Mess With The Dragon, which genre-busts to occasionally thrilling effect.

It’s just that once the dust has settled, the album lacks a really killer track that would make it really special and is more of a guilty pleasure than anything else.

Ozomatli certainly can’t be faulted for ambition. They combine equal parts Latin, hip-hop and worldbeat, stir in some catchy pop hooks and engaging lyrics and even sprinkle the odd funky horn and exotic world instrumentation to mix up their sound.

Their debut album, 2004’s Street Signs, won a Grammy as Best Latin Rock/Alternative album and Don’t Mess With The Dragon certainly is eclectic enough to attract such interest again.

Highlights come in the form of album opener Can’t Stop, a rallying call to anyone feeling low that drops some insistent hooks, Latin influenced rhythms and a genuinely bouncy, pop-friendly beat. And the brass and hammonds of After Party that really gets you singing and swinging along.

But it’s not all about partying, in spite of the generally upbeat nature of the music. Magnolia Soul attempts to pay a funky hip hop tribute to the New Orleans spirit in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, while Violeta emerges as a moving Spanish-language ballad that exposes the mortal thoughts of a soldier in Iraq. It’s the better of the two message tracks.

Some tracks, however, don’t work really well at all. The manic rock-ska of When I Close My Eyes becomes quickly annoying, while Here We Go is a fairly average pop-disco track that contains traces of reggaeton and dancehall.

Fortunately, though, there’s enough exuberance in the pulsating Latin beats to maintain the spirit of goodwill towards the album as a whole. It’s diverse, if nothing else, and it will get you dancing along in places!

Download picks: Can’t Stop, After Party, Violeta, Creo

Track listing:

  1. Can’t Stop
  2. City Of Angels
  3. After Party
  4. Don’t Mess With The Dragon
  5. La Gallina
  6. Magnolia Soul
  7. Here We Go
  8. La Temperatura
  9. Violeta
  10. Creo
  11. When I Close My Eyes
  12. La Segunda Mano