Saúl Hernández - Remando

Remando, Saúl Hernández

EMI Latin, México

Rating: 45

By Carlos Reyes

It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Kids, it’s called rock and roll. Rock en Español icon Saúl Hernández recently confessed undergoing more than 40 surgical interventions to remove a series of malignant tumors from his throat, and the man who grasped a generation’s love tales through a wounded, raspy voice is still in action today. It was no one’s surprise to hear 70,000 throats harmonizing '90s nostalgia at this year’s Vive Latino, all venerating the triumphant Caifanes comeback at Mexico City’s Foro Sol. But what fraction of that massive audience would actually care about Hernández’s long-mystified solo album? Well, to our surprise, a lot of them. Lacking substantial radio airplay and any proper music videos has not stopped Remando from becoming a commercial knockout. Saul Hernandez’s solo debut is giving Zoe’s MTV Unplugged: Musica de Fondo a run for its money as this year’s best-selling rock album. Seems like the numerous lip-syncing appearances on all those Miami-based TV morning shows (+ Sabado Gigante) paid off. Needless to say, this is a year of mediocre rock as means of financial enterprise.

For his unaccompanied venture, Saúl Hernández recruited renowned producer Don Was, recognized for his works with the living elite rock icons that include The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Willie Nelson. While the encounter of an established rock star with an A-list producer seemed promising, the final outcome is anything but legendary. The emblematic voice is as intricate in its role of carving emotions as ever, but there are no melodies to sustain it. Even worse, there’s no real sense of thematic exploration other than Hernández’s wobbly sensibilities to describe life after midlife crisis. “El Otro Lado de la Vida” summarizes this album pretty well: cryptic lyrics about a newly found dimension swirling loosely across fractured harmonies. Under a band formation (and exempting Jaguares’ dreadful 45), Saúl had cultivated a real sense for rock distillation; now under anarchic individuality, there’s no one to restrain his howl and, while revealing at times, he is the victim of his own mystique.

Whether it’s the Hernandez that promises to become immortal in “Voy A Beberme El Mar,” or the immigration activist in “Sera Mañana,” one can’t help but to recognize the album’s topics as misplaced and disturbingly stretchy. There is however, an almost outstanding track in the album. First single “Molecular” is, within the framework of the artist, one of his most digestible tracks ever. This track is a clean steady pop song where we get to witness a sober Hernández, who even throws a catchy “nananana” progression in the track’s climax. Throughout our short existence, Club Fonograma has been accused of deliberately panning every new album by established Rock en Español icons, and, while there might be a correlation of that in our track record, it’s self-drowning albums like Remando that make it difficult for us to show the great deal of respect we have for them.