Intocable: X (Diez)

X (Diez)
EMI Latin


Ever since Texans Ricky Muñoz and René Martinez formed Intocable in 1993, they've been looking to do something more than just copy the formulas of norteño and Tejano music. With each new album, the group pushes things just a bit more, while still retaining their massive Mexican and Chicano fan base. Last year's live set, Intimamente, went a long way toward proving that Intocable just might be the finest pop band in America, accordion and all.

This album marks their 10th studio album in 10 years, and it's got "importante" written all over it. It contains two discs; "X" gives us 14 new songs, and "Xtra" features Intocable tunes remade by other Latin music luminaries and by the band themselves. Hipsters might be drawn to the second disc for cult-favorite acts like funky Kinky and pop-savant Natalia Lafourcade, and rightly so, because these new versions pop in strange and funky ways. Hearing Volován rock out new-wave style on "Ya Ves" is a kick, and the version of "En Paz Descanse" featuring reggaetón superstar Tego Calderón is the cutting edge in Latin two-beat fusion.

But for all its fun glitz, "Xtra" is the lesser work. "X" is an absolute upper-deck home run of an album, a beautiful, simple, 50-minute slab of wow. The big single so far is "Aire," which contains more wistfulness in its 2/4 lope than any other song I've heard this year, as well as some intriguing ambience in its mix that no other norteño band would dare. Creamy pop tunes like "Soledad (Siento Morir)" fit right in with country songs like "Es Mejor Decir Adios" and Cars-esque polka songs like "A Oscuras." Muñoz's voice and accordion work are spotless, and Martinez's drumming keeps them all on pace, even when things get gently avant-garde for a few measures here and there. "Intocable" means "untouchable," y'all, and here they've proven it.

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