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Gogol Bordello: 'Seekers and Finders' Album Review

September 24, 2017

Continuing with the trend of previous albums, “Did It All” begins Seekers and Finders with an emphatic and energetic ending reminiscent of 2013’s Pura Vida Conspiracy. However, an increase in the production budget is clear as the track progresses; although some of the vocals are notably lost in the mix behind the instruments. Frontman Eugene Hütz’s vocals are a lot less gritty than in previous releases, and as “Walking on Burning Coal” progresses they do begin to sound too over-produced. The second track, despite being previously released as a single, is certainly not as strong as the album’s opener, feeling at times more like the mainstream rock sound that Gogol Bordello have been previously noted for avoiding. Thankfully, “Break Into Your Higher Self” fares slightly better, with the interesting pairing of a progressive rhythm alongside an apparent continuation Hütz’s recent lyrical transition to a more spiritual philosophy.

 

It is slightly worrying to note though, that by the time the album’s title track kicks in all of the lyrics have been predominantly in English. For a Gogol Bordello album, and indeed any album from a band with an international musical approach, this dive towards the more mainstream American popular culture, inevitable with their growing success, seems to be an unwelcome transition indeed. Seekers and Finders is a catchy track, but as I start to take note of the departures from Gogol Bordello’s previous music it is impossible not to note that the Pasha Newmer (accordion) and Sergey Ryabtsev (violin) seem to have been sidelined in favour of the more electric guitar and drum kit driven sound that everyone has heard before.

 

“Familia Bonfireball” is an anthem reminiscent of previous live hits such as “Undestructable”, and it is easy to imagine it being a very fun song live as it builds in both volume, speed, and instrumentation to a satisfying climax, before “Clearvoyance” builds on the band’s apparently undeliberate transition to a more Latin sound over the past few years. It is a very rhythm driven piece, with some interesting percussive, and this funky sound makes for a pleasant listen. Regrettably, it seems that the “filler” tracks are the more interesting ones of this album, rather than the ones that have previously been released as singles and/or played live. These trends are continued with the similar sounds of “If I Ever Get Home Before Dark”.

 

However, on that note, “Saboteur Blues” is still just as fun to hear  as it was when they played it live in Leeds back in July, but the occasional French fill does not make up for the complete lack of foreign language lyrics as of yet. It also fails to make up for the lack of any kind of interesting artwork to accompany the album, nor any form of packaging at all. A rather fun addition to previous Gogol Bordello albums has been the colourful and often silly artwork and transcripts in the casing, but this new album lacks any form of that as an online release.

 

“You Know Who We Are” brings the album towards a fun ending, which is concluded with “Still That Way”, a very singable closer that comes close to supplanting “Familia Bonfireball” as the album’s most memorable anthem. As an album, Seekers and Finders is an interesting journey. Starting off strongly, it then progresses into a newer sound more generic and familiar to mainstream audiences than the band’s previous work. However, the latter half of the album then nods the sound towards a more progressive experience. It is still difficult to comment accurately on a package that those buying the album will not receive; to that end I cannot rate it highly without a physical copy. It is also a shame that Gogol Bordello have discarded some of their more internationalist approach; with Hütz’s native Russian and Ukrainian being completely discarded, and Pedro Erazo’s Spanish input barley making an appearance either. It is overproduced to no end and far from the best thing the self-proclaimed “Gypsy-Christ-Superstars” have put out to date, but still an easily listenable album and will no doubt prove to be a more fun experience when the band take it on the road later this year.

 

7/10

 

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