Rating: 81 ★★★★
by Jean-Stephane Beriot
The national idiosyncrasy is the heart and cerebral consciousness of a country’s musical legacy. That secretive, almost tabooed understanding of existence and infrastructure gives music a national aroma. This is not a reflection of national pride, but a common denominator in how the romanticism of the arts is inclined to a form of collective absorption. In the words of Club Fonograma’s chairman, Carlos Reyes, “Chileans carry the poetic vein.” Yes, for better or for worse, part of Chile’s idiosyncrasy has been spoiled and demolished for the well-being of Latin American pop. Almost mirroring the history of Chilean diplomacy, Chilean artists have decoded their storytelling abilities, appreciation of the music form, and techno-anthem ambitions into the realm of pop expression.
I suspect (and expect) every review of Adrianigual’s Éxito Mundial will start with the same acknowledgement: 2010 was one heck of a year for Chilean music. That Javiera Mena-Gepe-Dënver ménage should be acknowledged as a landmark of the Chilean vernacular for many years to come (probably the most significant music wave to hit Latin America since La Avanzada Regia). We’re not trying to look for substitutes or souvenirs, but the arrival of Exito Mundial calms our compulsive behavior to tell the success story of Chilean pop in a linear progression. Many would argue Adrianigual needs to breakthrough the shadows of their fellow fulfilled stars, but, the truth is, Adrianigual raised the bar themselves four years ago with that epic kill-your-generation anthem “La Mistica Espiral” off their debut album Baila Baila Canta (Independiente, 2007).
Armed to the fullest in leading single “Me Gusta La Noche,” founding members Diego Adrian and Nacho Aedo polished the perfect single for their triumphant comeback. Already one of the hits of the year, this compelling piece is rowdy and chaotic, yet so warm and orchestral. “Me Gusta La Noche” is this year’s flash-frozen summer jam, one of human adventure and unquestionable soul. Without marginalizing its topics to adolescent agony, Adrianigual sings about “dancing your dreams,” and I don’t know about you, but that just makes me sweat over the dancefloor (and on a couple of walls). If El Medio’s “Que bueno que nadie piensa en mi” is the embodiment of the #ForeverAlone meme, then Éxito Mundial’s opening track, “Arde Santiago,” must be the epithet of #DisasterGirl. Under eloquent production by Alex Anwandter (a master of disco songcraft), this first track pictures Chile’s city capital in devastating flames. Our character, however, gazes back only to rejoice the burning of his bridges (“atras arde Santiago, es un dia muy feliz”).
Adrianigual serves sonic templates with both the forward-looking chasms and revivalist melancholy. “Me Cargan Los Ochentas” is perhaps the album’s most sober piece and yet it’s got a certain over-the-shoulder sexiness a la Scritti Politti with the R&B fluency of Junior Boys. Album highlights “La Agente” and “Bang Bang Bang” find Diego Adrian spitting some impressive unorthodox rhymes in the lines of “la noche que ya no cabe dentro del fokin corazon” in the former or the “B.O.B” Outkast reference on the latter. Adrianigual proves to be resourceful at all times and, even when they seem destined for self-sabotage (“Haiti” & “Siglo XXI”), their dystopian charm saves them from drowning in pandemonium. Closing tracks “Sudamerica” and “La Pelea” are all about moody affairs, and the guys sustain their bad boy image while sounding remarkably considerate. Éxito Mundial feels like a tailor-made blockbuster full blown into a pop record. Adrianigual’s practices are often questionable and relentlessly aggressive, yet for every midnight escapade they also kiss the sun. Self-empowerment at its core.