Gogol Bordello – Pura Vida Conspiracy


Review By Jack Arkell

ATO Records

Elevating themselves into the public consciousness in 2005 with the release of seminal album Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike, Gogol Bordello are the undisputed leaders of the gypsy-punk scene. The Manhattan-based outfit have carved themselves a reputation for putting on rousing live shows, while incorporating accordions, violins and all manner of sounds into their five previous studio albums dating back to 1999. Pura Vida Conspiracy is their sixth, with the title deriving from the Spanish slang phrase for ‘pure life’. Once again, the octet use Eastern philosophies as the main focus of their song writing, not so much singing about their desire to bring together fragmented people and places as shouting it from the rooftops.

Take recently released single ‘Lost Innocent World’ as a prime example. An eclectic mix of instruments greet you within the opening fifteen seconds, before vocalist Eugene Hutz sings in lamentation of a long gone past. This follows ‘Malandrino’, the track that best showcases Bordello’s knack of switching the pace mid-song on multiple occasions, yet maintaining a cohesive structure. Other highlights include the excellent ‘Rainbow’, a crowd-pleaser during their run of European festivals this summer and ‘Gypsy Auto Pilot’, an ode to ripping up life’s rule book which boasts a wealth of clever lyrics (‘Where have you been all my life? I’ve been skipping school since then’). Meanwhile, the chorus of ‘Dig Deep Enough’ is an all shaking rallying cry highlighted by the work of accordionist Yuri Lemeshev. ‘Hieroglyph’ is a ballad in comparison, but still possesses all the eccentricity expected of a Bordello track. Final number ‘We Shall Sail’ sees Hutz taking things down a notch further and going solo, preaching ‘Nothing in this life is good or bad; it’s we who dress it up as happy or sad’. If the frontman is willing to budge on this belief, this reviewer would like to brand the album as very good indeed.

If this is your first experience of Gogol Bordello, it will be a very pleasant introductory lesson indeed. The sound is immediate, yet still manages to grow with every listen. For long time fans, an improvement since last record ‘Trans-Continental Hustle’ will certainly not go unnoticed. With a wealth of strong material and very little filler, ‘Pura Vida Conspiracy’ is a much superior body of work. And if for whatever reason you’re not completely taken with the record after purchasing it, at least you’ll be the proud owner of one of the most bizarre album sleeves of 2013.

Gogol Bordello – Pura Vida Conspiracy8 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. We Rise Again
  2. Dig Deep Enough
  3. Malandrino
  4. Lost Innocent World
  5. Name Your Ship
  6. Rainbow
  7. Amen
  8. I Just Realised
  9. My Gypsy Auto Pilot
  10. Hieroglyph
  11. John the Conqueror (Truth is Always the Same)
  12. We Shall Sail