Meets expectations, was hoping for more
Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero have always occupied a funky niche in the music industry. On the surface, they’re an acoustic guitar duo from Mexico City whose pairing led to musical and romantic sparks flying back when they were teenagers. Though twenty-something years later they are no longer a couple, their musical partnership is very much intact and well.
Though the two began playing music together as part of the same heavy metal band in Mexico, their journey into becoming ‘Rodrigo y Gabriela’ began in Dublin, Ireland, in the early 2000s where Damien Rice took a liking to their music and gave them an opening slot to one of his shows. It went uphill from there, as that led to the release of five studio albums, sold-out live shows, and a private White House performance for President Obama in 2010. Now in 2019, after a lengthy five-year hiatus, Sanchez and Quintero have released their long-awaited next album, titled Mettavolution.
There are only six original songs on the album, and they’re all well written, chock full of energetic strumming, percussive handclaps, and fun melodies. What’s surprising though, is their basic nature. Rodrigo y Gabriela has spent the last few albums composing gorgeous tributes to fallen artists and heroes as well as recording with a full Cuban backing orchestra. On the flip side, ‘Terracentric’, the title track, and the rest of Mettavolution is very much a return to just the two of them making music together. ‘Cumbe’ adds a little bit of interesting ancillary percussion, but besides that, it’s vanilla by R&G’s high standards. And as fun, as the music is, one can’t help but feel a little slighted.
Luckily, the album has a seventh track- a sprawling 19-minute cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Echoes’. Despite the fact that the original was performed by a full band, their version retains a lot of the raw power and epic proportions despite only being performed by two acoustic guitars. Does this makeup for the lack of extra flair on the album? It doesn’t, but the album is a lot better with it on there.
Overall, Rodrigo y Gabriela have met expectations, and while that’s far better than the alternative, it’s a little underwhelming given their penchant for exceeding them in the past.