Gogol Bordello
Pura Vida Conspiracy

ATO (2013) Kevin Fitzpatrick

Gogol Bordello – Pura Vida Conspiracy cover artwork
Gogol Bordello – Pura Vida Conspiracy — ATO, 2013

Gogol Bordello, on their earlier releases, were one of those rare bands that everybody agreed was a must-see live band that and was able to capture a reasonable facsimile of that imperative on record. Later releases, in particular the band's 2010 release Trans-Continental Hustler, were not as successful capturing that live energy in the studio.

Pura Vida Conspiracy is a step back in the right direction. We find lead vocalist Eugene Hütz in grand form here – riding that razor thin line between jester and huckster, frontman and con-man. The band that was dismissed by some to be a quasi-authentic parody of Balkan folk-punk, have proven beyond the shadow of a sumnivayusya that they're the real deal.

PVC is the band's sixth full-length from start to finish has all the manic vitality so prevalent on earlier albums like Gypsy Punks, but shows the kind of growth one would expect after the seemingly non-stop touring over the past few years.

Lyrically, PVC continues to explore past themes of laments for lost loves, lost hope, and lost ideals but the dichotomy is that Gogol Bordello's music is so goofily celebratory, you can't help but be pulled into their lunacy. They can take the most maudlin dirge you've ever heard and turn it into a somehow life-affirming tarantella that'll have the most cynical of listeners grinning from ear to ear.

The touring band currently stands at eight members but, make no mistake, this is Hütz's show all the way. On tracks like "John the Conqueror" and "Lost Innocent World," he plays to one of his many strengths and becomes the storyteller, showing us a world of heroes and outcasts longing to be understood.

Gogol Bordello aren't just a flash in the pan, nor are they to be dismissed as a novelty act. There's a method to this madness that's as valid and viable as any act that doesn't wear Beetlejuice pants. Remember, to appreciate the truly cool things in this world, you don't need to be crazy. Just crazy enough.

Gogol Bordello – Pura Vida Conspiracy cover artwork
Gogol Bordello – Pura Vida Conspiracy — ATO, 2013

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