Will the wolves survive? And thrive? Their 10th studio album in a powerful 22-year run finds Los Lobos treading water, albeit with the artful grace of an aquatic ballet. Rather than charm and/or stun as they’ve done in their most winning and/or ingenious past moments, they use The Town and the City to lay back into their by-now-organic grooves, eventually, after enough spins, seducing the listener into the desert-heat ambience of their mature MexiCali-roots-meets-prog-rock style. But such seemingly signature songs as “The Road to Gila Bend” and “Two Dogs and a Bone” lack the zest and sparkle necessary to leave their mark, while “Free Up” needs to be a bit more wild and free to spark the irresistible sing’n’sway-along allure it strives for. Then again, the way “Little Things” approaches the stately grandeur of the Band—complete with David Hidalgo channeling the crackling vocal emotionality of Rick Danko—reminds you how both border-crossing bands remain peerless in the art of creating definitive American rock music.
Los Lobos play Irving Plaza Thursday, September 28 at 8 p.m., $30, irvingplaza.com.