I reviewed Recoditos’ most recent album of heavy petting and even heavier drinking, Sueño XXX, at PopMatters:

Today They Smell Dawn.

Finding your way through the catalog of Banda Los Recoditos feels like entering some overstuffed shop full of toys and tchotchkes, every item beckoning brighter and harder than the last. Everything’s shiny and a tad overpriced. This is one of those stores where, to reach the back, you have to keep pushing aside dangling strands of stuff — probably little liquor bottles and sex toys, given Recoditos’ preoccupations. Yes, I am saying Banda Los Recoditos is basically the Spencer’s of the banda pop mall. And yes, that’s a good thing. Up to a point. You know how, after an hour spent enduring smutty jokes and stories about some dude’s wet dreams, you sometimes just need to go outside? Look at the least phallic thing available? And the first thing you see is like a fire hydrant spraying its obscene contents all over the place? The attendees of September’s Values Voter Summit understood: our society is soaked in sex and debauchery, a fact Recoditos also recognizes and exploits on their latest album, Sueño XXX.

Not since O-Town’s “Liquid Dreams” has a pinup band described so brazenly the plotline of a sex dream, especially to actual participants in the dream itself. “Que bien te veías sin ropa te confieso,” sings Luis Ángel “El Flaco” Franco in the forthright title waltz — “I confess you looked good without clothes on.” From there El Flaco’s dream grows more erotic thanks to its authors, the prolific and apparently lascivious Luciano Luna and Omar Tarazón. The songwriters-for-hire know their clients. After years on indie labels, Recoditos went major in 2010 and carved out a niche as regional Mexican radio’s feel-good bad boys, scoring the number one hits “Ando Bien Pedo” (“I’m Very Drunk”) and “Mi Último Deseo” (“My Last Wish”). (Flaco’s last wish is for everyone at his funeral to party.) In real life, the band has advertised Sueño XXX on condom packages. Besides its nocturnal admission, this new album finds the band contemplating whether or not to cheat (“es un dilema…”) and the ravages of alcohol on memory (“tres shots, cuatro shots, y no me acuerdo de nada”). They want cool chicks to poison their bodies with sex, bottles, and cigarettes (“Morras De Accion”). Did I mention they are drunk (“La Peda”)? Or possibly not (“No Hay Pedo”)? Because really it’s all you and your crazy mother’s fault? And maybe Banda Los Recoditos is just sick of your face, you ever think of that?

In the video for lead single “Hasta Que Salga El Sol”, El Flaco and second lead singer Samuel Sarmiento blatantly re-enact The Hangover with their bandmates and some pretty mujeres, though without any tigers or pathos—everyone just wakes up in a heap on the beach, flashes back to the previous night’s revelry, and decides to do it all over again. The song barrels nonstop for two and a half minutes, with Flaco running out of breath at the ends of his phrases and brass lines tangling together like sweaty bodies. The song’s author Rubén Esli got his big break on last year’s Recoditos album with the aforementioned “Mi Último Deseo”, and in a sense Recoditos albums function as a State of the Scene for norteño songwriters. Much like its older brother Banda El Recodo, Recoditos has the power and the chops to put new songwriters on the map, even while commanding songs from proven hitmakers.

Fortunately the band has good taste. Only occasionally does Recoditos slip into the saccharine crap Luciano Luna sells to other bandas — on Sueño, that’d be Luna’s “Me Sobrabas Tu”, a modestly pretty number that nonetheless feels long at three minutes. (The longest running time here is 3:19.) More often the band, led by musical director, trombonist, and sometime songwriter Marco Figueroa, encourages outside writers to give free rein to their untrammelled ids. Take the veteran writer Martín Castro. “Sin Respiración”, his signature ballad for Banda El Recodo, is a smooth talk anthem about amor leading to breathlessness. (It’s actually really good.) Last year romantic heartthrobs La Arrolladora Banda el Limón recorded Castro’s maudlin “Por Confiar En Ti”; like most of Arrolladora’s catalog, listening to it felt like mainlining a slow drip of mush. For Recoditos on the other hand, Castro cowrote “Vida Maniaca”, two kickass minutes of kaleidoscopic brass accents and drunk sex in hot tubs. Come on. You know which Castro you wanna hear.

Lest I paint Recoditos as one-note oversexed buffoons — I’m specifically thinking of the oversexed buffoons in Los Vaquetones Del Hyphy, who’ve been known to dress up as condoms — you should know that this banda employs stellar musicians who in fact have many notes. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of all the notes. Besides being drunk and insane, “La Peda” and “No Hay Pedo” display mindblowing virtuosity with clarinets shrieking in every direction. “Shot” and “El Mecánico” are the token rocking cumbias — there’s at least one every album — and “Entre Amor Y Tentacion” is gorgeous midtempo pop. The album has a few too many slow songs, but the singers do their best to keep things lively, dragging words behind the beat and belting their highly charged emotions to “la luna, el cielo, y LAAAAAAS ESTREEEEEEELLAS!” Sueño XXX is a cheerful and varied album that ends with three of its wildest songs. Say this for the band with its name on the condoms: It knows what makes a good package.