Albums — December 20, 2018 at 3:57 am

Favorite Albums of 2018: Khruangbin – ‘Con Todo El Mundo’

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For nearly fifteen years, Laura Lee (bass), Mark Speer (guitar), and Donald “DJ” Johnson (drums) have been perfecting their instrumental psychedelia as Khruangbin. However, their music isn’t solely based on the psych-rock that emerged in the late ’60s and ’70s and has taken on a ferocious approach in modern times. They have instead infused Brazilian funk, Nigerian Afro-beats, the reggae soul of the Caribbean, and the trip-hop of the UK into one incomparable sound. With Con Todo El Mundo, all these elements are brilliantly weave together into one tantalizing and seductive album.

In other life, Lee, Speer, and Johnson likely were snake charmers, as the gentle and sweet grooves are spellbinding. The deliciously smokey “Shades of Man” and the soothing grace of “Cómo Te Quiero”, for instance, are laid-back tunes meant for sipping Mai Tais on the beach. A touch of ’60s R&B flows through the enchanting tones of “August 10” while the suspenseful “Rules” echoes a film-noir mystery. With “Friday Morning”, the trio create a song perfect for a late-night rendez-vous despite its title.

Not everything on Con Todo El Mundo is mellow. “Evan Finds the Third Room” is a groove-heavy, soul-injected, bouncy number. It’s also a rarity as being one of the few songs on the album possessing vocals. Lee assumes the voice of an automated “pleasure service”. The LP’s highlight, though, is “Maria También”. Infused with the sounds of the Middle East mixed with groovy, Western psych-rock textures, the song perfectly captures the cultural revolution occurring in Iran in the ’60s and ’70s. It is vibrant, jubilant, and a little delirious. And in many ways, the song captures Khruangbin’s own revolution. Specifically, the Houston trio are playing by their own rules and in the process creating something brilliantly refreshing.

Con Todo El Mundo was released on Dead Oceans. It is also available on Bandcamp.

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