Even by the melodramatic standards of banda singers, Edwin Luna stands out. Like Guy Fieri in the genre of “annoying Food Network personalities,” Luna adds to the baseline expectations of his job description an idiosyncratic arsenal of tics, his husky quaver swooping and shouting where other singers would be content to just, you know, hold the note. Like Fieri, this makes Luna interesting to listen to — you never know what invitation to parody will emerge from his throat next — even when the surrounding material is lacking, as it is on La Revancha (Remex), the latest album from Luna’s band La Trakalosa de Monterrey. Unlike Fieri, Luna has the self-awareness to turn these tics into artistic achievement. Trakalosa’s 6-month-old “Adicto a La Tristeza” remains a jam because it’s about Luna’s over-emoting. It’s the sonic equivalent of a cinematic closeup on a single tequila-filled tear.
The eight-minute video for La Revancha‘s title single collects a vial of those tears, shakes ’em up with lime juice and salt, and then pours the whole mess back into your eyes. (SPOILER ALERT!) In the most momentous period of anyone’s life, ever, Luna loses his job the day he learns his wife is pregnant. Months later, with his wife approaching labor while he still can’t find any, Luna bumps into a friend on the street. We can tell this friend is no good because he’s wearing reflective aviator shades. Friend brings Luna to meet his face-tattooed, gun-toting jefe; with a heavy heart, Luna scribbles down his contact info and goes home. There is a mixup with some of jefe’s cocaine-sniffing cabrones. They read Luna’s info, go to his house and kill his family. For some reason Luna goes to jail, where his fellow inmates throw stuff at him in the cafeteria and presumably give him wedgies. This teaches Luna to toughen up, which is good because we get to see him without a shirt, and also because jefe and cabrones eventually show up AT THE SAME JAIL. By now, Luna is a well-established man about prison and can barter for a pistol, which he keeps on a shelf in his cell, out in the open, next to a photo of his dead wife and a little statue of La Virgen. What will happen in the next episode? Will a guard passing by Luna’s cell, you know, see the pistol and confiscate it? OR WILL LUNA HAVE SU REVANCHA? Stay tuned!
The rest of the album is OK. Despite the energy of Remex bands’ singles, their albums tend to be heavy on ballads. La Revancha is no exception, although, like most other Remex albums, it runs mercifully short. Highlights include “Camuflaje,” a piano-led duet with mariachi Fato, and the stacked harmonies of “Ya Verás.”
Nevertheless, NO VALE LA PENA.