The gypsy punks stay united and keep delivering their unique sound on Gogol Bordello’s latest, Super Taranta!. The band may officially hail from New York’s Lower East Side, but Gogol Bordello draws members from Eastern Europe to Ethiopia, Thai-American to Chinese-Scottish (okay, the drummer’s from Florida…). Their self-proclaimed ‘gypsy punk’ style really started turning heads in 2005 with Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike, their first on SideOneDummy Records, and it’s wonderful single “Start Wearing Purple” (Ukrainian singer/guitarist Eugene Hütz’s scene-stealing supporting turn in Live Schreiber & Elijah Wood’s film adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything Is Illuminated didn’t hurt either). Super Taranta! keeps that trend going, combining Romany celebratory music with American jam bands, Canadian collective-ism, Jewish Klezmer, and much more.
Opener “Ultimate” starts Super Taranta! off with an anthemistic Gogol Bordello sing-along, forceful in its up-look, but it is the following single “Wonderlust King” that is perhaps the best representation of the band on the record. Not quite as weird as some of the other pieces, the fun track serves well as a single. Unfortunately, from there Taranta! begins to slip, as the songs start to all sound the same. The combination of accordion and violin (from Russians Yuri Lemeshev and Sergey Ryabtsev, respectively), speedy dance-hall guitars, and Hütz’s extremely Slavic vocals are like no other band, but that uniqueness means that many tracks ring similar to unaccustomed ears, such as the darker “Zina Marina” & “Dub the Frequencies of Love”, or the more rollicking “Harem in Tuscany (Taranta)”, with only the even more old-timey accordion “Supertheory of Supereverything” really standing out.
Thankfully, Super Taranta! picks up in the middle, as things get more interesting on “My Strange Uncles from Abroad”. “Tribal Connection” is almost a sea-shanty in its carrying nature, but it is the bombastic declaration of “Forces of Victory” which finally takes the record to the next level. The tracks get more jumbled near the end (too jumbled on “Suddenly… (I Miss Carpaty”), with the drunk ode “Alcohol”, the funky back-bass of “Your Country”, and the fun, ‘gypsy-crashing & bitching’ “American Wedding”. And the album finishes out with the title track, a big gypsy-jam ender.
Being more located in their live sound than in studio (they’ve got not one, but two dancers), Gogol Bordello does have a tendency to go on a bit too long on record, and Super Taranta! is no different – both with songs (fourteen total) and within songs (many going over five minutes). And there’s nothing on the record that quite reaches the ‘breakthrough’ status of “Purple”. But they’ve got a sound you’re not going to hear anywhere else, and it’s good enough that you wish you could.