Zoé - MTV Unplugged: Música de Fondo

MTV Unplugged: Música de Fondo, Zoé
Capitol Records
Rating: 60

By Carlos Reyes

Analyzing a band’s profile can be a difficult chore sometimes, especially when you’re confronted with what could be the most lauded band of your generation. Everyone loves a success story, and they’ve earned such respect through the years. Zoé’s current status as the Mexican rock import band is understandable; we however, can’t help but to suggest such attribute is quite inflated. But before feeding into the band’s inevitable backlash, let’s put some things in perspective.

Like many people out there, a couple of years ago (during CF’s first months) I used to endorse the band’s triumphs with eyes closed. Well, I was a teenager back then, and as convenient as it may sound, I can only say I grew out of the Zoé bandwagon once I started to listen to more music. Claiming to be ‘out of the cave’ might seem like an extreme assertion, but that’s the best way I can fundament my change of judgment. MTV Unplugged is the ideal opportunity to mediate Zoé’s hyperbole with its actual merits. In this album, they find themselves among Latin-Rock royalty with guest performers Adrian Dargelos (Babasonicos) and the infamous Enrique Bunbury. Both numbers are appealing but forgettable, it’s the presence of Hello Seahorse!’s LoBlondo who saves the day and keeps things within the concept of the unplugged as an event.

They’re already an amphitheater band, Café Tacvba sees them as their most “obvious” successors, and there are several urban tribes ticketed to their name. But when it comes to the actual transcendence of the band, they come short from the idolization. As our very own Jean-Stephane Beriot once said, “Zoé is half as good as people make it up to be,” and if we’re looking for a measurement, that would be it. We can say is a good, skillful band with some great songs (“No Me Destruyas” is amazing), but far, far away from the true arsenal new great bands from Mexico (Hello Seahorse!, Piyama Party, Bam Bam).

Musica de Fondo is a recollection of their hits reworked into the folksy sound of the MTV Unplugged brand. Like all the previous Latin acts to be inducted into the format, Zoé expands its instrumental spectrum, sometimes refining the track like they do in “Sombras” and “Ultimos Dias”, and sometimes missing the mark completely (“Poli” & “Via Lactea”). As profound as many of the songs are, Zoé isn’t the most charming band in the world; something previous performers have had in abundance (Julieta, Shakira, and even Alejandro Sanz). I won’t go much in detail, but the one time I was able to catch the band live in concert, let’s just say that was like the time George Lopez met Erik Estrada (google it). Personality is rarely an aspect that concerns me, except under this kind of intimate conditions. At the end, Zoé’s chest of songs is actually pretty impressive, and these songs aren’t background music whatsoever, they’re simply lacking the warmth of the occasion, or the TV special.