The Party Isn't Over for Los Lobos

Los Lobos

Tin Can Trust (Shout Factory!)

Los Lobos' latest seems, at first listen, like a small-scale and casual disc. It was recorded in a cramped studio in East L.A., and it betrays the band's origins as purveyors of neighborhood party music. But the party here feels like it's almost over; for all the vitality of Los Lobos the band—Tin Can Trust is dense with all the influences and musical tricks the band has learned in almost 40 years together—the songs here roll along half a beat slower than you expect them to, and David Hidalgo and Louie Perez sure sound like they're at the end of something. It's gloomy and resigned, but I suspect it's less evidence of Los Lobos' age and fading profile as it's just the result of a great band singing and playing songs about getting old.

Tin Can Trust is a long way from the band's epic 1992 album Kiko, which was a masterpiece of studio recording. But this album's low-key charms and live, in-the-room vibe are just as deliberate as the cinematic sweep of Kiko; there's as much craft and care in the sluggish blues of "27 Spanishes" or the haunting, jazzy echoes of "Jupiter or the Moon" as in anything from Kiko. This isn't a perfect album—it seems, in fact, to be self-consciously imperfect. But it's about as good as anything Los Lobos has ever done, and that's saying something.