Lots of people prefer Caifanes to Jaguares. Not me. Saul Hernandez, who broke up the former band to front the latter, has really blossomed as a hard rocker. The last Jaguares studio disc, Cuando la Sangre Galopa, sounded like Los Lonely Boys dreaming of being Cactus. This new album is weirder, poppier, and heavier than its predecessor. The first single, “Hay Amores Que Matan,” seems like the record’s low point at first, the addition of horns almost shoving it into cheeseball Santana–featuring–Rob Thomas territory, but Hernandez makes it work. His lyrics are sub–Morrisonian magical-realist gibberish, as always, but his hoarse voice and earnest delivery (he almost reaches Bono-like levels of meaning-it on a couple of tracks) sell them effectively. Unless you speak Spanish, the music’s gonna be the selling point, anyway, and Crónicas de un Laberinto features plenty of tonal shifts for Jaguares, many of them quite exciting. Adrian Belew contributes bizarre, yet still fist-pumping guitar all over this thing. Even if you don’t like his work with King Crimson (I don’t), the sound of his solos atop Hernandez’s blues-rock riffs, on album opener “Bruja Caníbal and “Ya Te Quemaste” in particular, will stick your brain to the sides of your skull.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 30, 2005