Reviews June 23, 2015
Four years ago, the world was introduced to Guadelajara’s Los Master Plus through a gloriously cheesy electro-cumbia cover of the Kings of Leon hit “Sex on Fire,” retitled “Sexo en Fuego.” The song alone was amazingly catchy, but the video cemented Los Master Plus’ appeal: the two band members, Larry Mon and Comanche both wear cowboy hats, huge mustaches, open shirts, sunglasses and chains, as they jam on synthesizers, with green-screen backgrounds of tropical getaways, technicolor disco balls, and finally, an ostrich. It was a goofy classic, and, even if they were a one-hit wonder, Los Master Plus would forever hold a place in the hearts of those of us who can't resist great use of green-screen. But Los Master Plus are far more than a novelty act. The band’s first full-length album, Adelante (available on iTunes), begins with a rapping food vendor hawking his goods, welcoming listeners to Los Master Plus' cartoonish fast-paced universe: “¡Bana-bana-banana/ Nana-nana-naranja-ja/ Ji-jicama Mama-ma-Mamey/ Me-melón/ Manguito petacón!/ ¡Arrímese a la troka del sonido por favor!” The production is dramatic glitchy electro interspersed with some ‘80s-style hair-metal guitar. But Los Master Plus can also make straight-up old school cumbia. They do that on the next track “Recalentado,” which uses majestic-sounding horns to flesh out their sound from the synth magic they're known for. Luckily, there is still much of that, as on the fabulously high-charged “Chana y Juana” and the Middle Eastern-tinged “Suave Leve,” the album’s lead single, which comes with its own epic over-the-top video. Los Master Plus made some smart choices for guest features on Adelante. First of all, Kinky lead singer Gil Cereza joins the band for “Mas Aca.” Like Los Master Plus, Kinky is a Mexican band with a sly sense of humor and a predilection for creating incredibly catchy mixtures of electronic production and traditional rhythms. “Mas Aca” also features the killer accordion solo that we’ve all been waiting for on a Los Master track. The album gets truly raucous on “Se Que Bebo” (I Drink It), which is one-part beautifully drunken singalong (with more accordion!) and one-part flashy electro-rap. Los Master Plus brings out a string section for the sultry “En La Orilla Del Mar,” a cover of a track by another man who was also known for his remarkable mustache, Cuban singer Bienvenido Granda (nicknamed El bigote que canta or “The mustache that sings”). Finally, Adelante closes with appearances by two young artists, the Guadelajara-based singer Caloncho and the electro collective Mexican Institute of Sound. While Kinky emerged out of the localized avazanda regia movement of Monterrey in the ‘90s, Los Master Plus has found company in their unabashedly fun, free-spirited take on dance music with artists from throughout Mexico. This delightfully varied album deserves to be heard by fans of dance music and mustaches throughout the world.