Porfiado, El Cuarteto de Nos
Warner Music, Uruguay
by Carlos Reyes
Although active in the rock & roll excursion for over 30 years, Uruguay’s El Cuarteto Nos didn’t become a serious export until their 2006 hit “Yendo a la casa de Damián” became as solicited as Stacy’s mom. Prompting a creative resurgence with the help of compatriot producer Juan Campodónico (Bajofondo, Campo), the band holds enough motivation to give their renaissance a continuous stream on their latest effort, Porfiado. Motivated, but not too eloquent, in progressive ideas, El Cuarteto (which is, ironically, now a five-piece band) has crafted a thirteenth album that is (as always) amusing but, this time around, not particularly outstanding.
El Cuarteto’s fundamental (perhaps romanticized) audience consists of groups of men who play in local amateur futbol leagues and have drunken encores consisting of televised matches, male bonding, and deep-cut conversation. Yes, I’ve pretty much described half of what Latin rock bands are mainly about, yet there’s a fundamental sketchiness to El Cuarteto’s cheerful hues that have elevated them from the rest. It’s a sensibility to embrace populist, happy-go-lucky milieu that has brought them this far. Like its fitting title, Porfiado is an opinionated chapter of mere idiosyncrasy. With lines such us “seguire pensando en que pensar” and titles like “Lo malo de ser bueno,” composer/vocalist/rapper Roberto Musso confesses to being at the mercy of duality. That feeling (which goes along with the lovely album cover) translates into the quality of the album, whose novelty evaporates rapidly as it seems to be more concerned about lyrical merriment and technical form than moving forward.
There’s still plenty of wit and wisdom all throughout Porfiado for future revisions. Overqualified to play fetch with genres, the album works best in tracks like the bohemian cumbia “Enamorado Tuyo” and especially in “Buen Dia Benito,” where the vocals and magnified cacophony step into Calle 13 territory. At the end, is “No te invite a mi cumpleaños,” the set’s most catchy track, where El Cuarteto shows they’ve learned new tricks to build bridges and stir their one-of-a-kind loopiness with pseudo universality. Porfiado is a flawed effort patched by its comical compass. Perhaps that’s enough for many people, but if, like us, you’ve been distorted/enlightened (in rationale and in spirit) by Piyama Party, than you ought to ask for something more than glee or reachability.