Album Reviews

ZOÉ Revives and Transcends on ‘Aztlán’

Mexican space rock outfit, ZOÉ, returns with a magical, milestone album.

Cradling fans with suspense as they teased singles “Azul” and “Temor y Temblor”, two-time GRAMMY award winning Mexican band, ZOÉ return with their highly anticipated album, Aztlán. The overdue realm of sounds embody familiar traits of love, loss, and space rock that listeners first were welcomed to since their self-titled EP in 2001. Jesus Baez ( Keyboards), Sergio Acosta (Lead Guitar), Leon Larregui ( Vocals), Rodrigo Guardiola ( Drums) , and Angel Mosqueda ( Bass) revive a lost spark and simultaneously celebrate a milestone of 20 years in their career. The album’s title pays homage of the lost city and ancestral home of the Aztec people, while dispersing their roots over exploratory sounds. The textured album tilts the band’s influential, and alternative sound back in their favor, as their inspirational pull hungers for something more and of an alternate world.

The album’s leading single dives into their signature sound of space as “Venus” immediately washes over with a distant, and persuasive beat. Warm bass lines provide the depth needed for Larregui’s ethereal and accepting vocals while the track’s intense imagery paints a tangled and unrequited love: “Vienes con el mar, vuelta en un ciclo  / Vienes y te vas, como una Venus te apareces / Me hundiré en tus olas / Y que nos lleve la corriente (You come with the sea, back in a cycle / You come and go, like a Venus you appear / I will sink in your waves / And let the current carry us).”

The futuristic love story  continues on the synth driven single “Azul”, and even more so on “Luci“, which pulls a listener out of heartbreak and into pure bliss. Whimsical in nature and loving notions pick up with scattered guitar chords on this track and settle sweetly midway through the album.

Resonating as one of the strongest tracks on the album, “Al Final” takes a lush lead with an instrumental start before transitioning into the realm of electronics. Fuller, thicker compositions with spacey breaks and fluid transitions are adored on this track. Penned as a poetic revolutionary stance on completion, the track’s words prove to be of a relentless and hopeless romantic. Continuing on the threads of ending, “Hielo” takes a dark, synth-wave approach as the story reflects the somber tone and brute line of reality, “Ponle hielo a tu corazón / put ice on your heart.” Whereas “No Hay Mal Que Dure” plays on a Mexican saying that “there is no bad that lasts” with it’s 80s-spired production, humorously coated with the saying’s crude ending, “chinga tu madre.”

Aside from a continuous theme of love and pain, the title-track captures a deeper outlook of the band’s messaging. “Aztlán” does not merely speak of the mythical place and the portrayal the band submerges themselves in, but of a true sentiment of roots hovering over the political climate: “Ninguna pared nos va a parar / Porque sobreviví a esta mission / Perseguí la muerte, nos vemos en Tenochtitlan ( No wall is going to stop us, / Because I survived this mission / I persecuted death, see you in Tenochtitlan).” 

Another sonic standout emerges on the track “Renacer,” blending emotive vocals and otherworldly guitar chords that dissolves worry. The production speaks on ZOÉ’s experimental and sensual soundscape that can only be successfully pulled off from the Latin ensemble, noting the warm and melodious break. “Clarividad” rightfully closes the album and slowly impedes with a prominent bass and fresh, tempo switches. The album’s longing lyrics are crafted with care equally to that of its astronomical production. Flourishing, as usual, ZOÉ graciously returns and resurrects the essence that made them irresistible 20 years ago.

Catch ZOÉ on the last of their 2018 tour


3 New York, NY Irving Plaza

4 Washington DC The Fillmore

7 Chicago, IL House Of Blues

9 Denver, CO Summit Music Hall

11 San Francisco, CA Masonic

12 San Diego, CA House Of Blues

15 Anaheim, CA House Of Blues

16 Los Angeles, CA The Wiltern

17 Riverside, CA Riverside Auditorium

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