Repeat After Me, Los Amigos Invisibles
Nacional Records, Venezuela
by Carlos Reyes
We doubted the intentions of Fox when they opened their Fox News Latino page, and we still cringe whenever we see that hot-spiced italic font in their logo. Popular culture’s misguided need to become comprehensive (instead of integrationist) has led to the reconsideration of cultural text produced inside and outside the region. While profit may signify cultural welfare (look at Sofia Vergara’s coagulating accent as the years go by), outside the mainstream, there’s an inevitable backlash to art that’s explicitly attached to forms of Latinization.
Is there another current/relevant band that sounds as Latin as Los Amigos Invisibles? Probably not. For over two decades, Venezuela’s biggest export has offered the most abrasive chest of Latin rhythms, and I’d shortlist them as one of the most entertaining live acts in the world. Repeat After Me, their latest reference, is yet another chapter of their testosterone-fueled funky gozadera. While Superpop Venezuela and Commercial arrived at times where culture needed Los Amigos’ hypersexualized urgency as social distractions and carnal escapisms, Repeat After Me comes at a time where Latin culture wants to disassociate from the papi chulos and mamacitas. And it’s not that the music in Repeat After Me doesn’t serve a purpose. “La que me gusta” has so much groove to dignify a dive bar, and “Robot Love” simply brings the party to your room. While the spirit and intentions are definitely there, the scope for transcendence for content that feels so obvious is uncertain.
The production of Repeat After Me is pristine and easy to grab, and yet the critical and overall reception of the record has been somewhat lukewarm. Los Amigos have stomped into an excess of tropical delirium, also encountering an infliction. Whether Repeat After Me might acquire a different appreciation in years to come remains to be seen. I guess we’re just living in a time where a tailored seduction of the beat (i.e. Dënver's “Revista de Gimnasia”) is more meaningful than the expansive hip-churning delivery offered by Los Amigos Invisibles in something like “Sexappeal” (a song that could’ve aspired to anthem-status five years ago). Repeat After Me is ultimately more flawed by circumstance than by lack of substance. Sure, we could point to the band for being out of touch with the zeitgest’s demands, but they’re a band that could forever hold the right to self-fulfillment.