Brothers and band-mates, the psychedelic cumbia-punk that David and Rene Pacheco have pieced together over a decade as Tropa Magica has coalesced into something sublime on their sophomore album Tripiando Al Infinito En Mi Recámara (Tripping to Infinity in my Bedroom).
Expanding on their alt-grunge-psych Cumbia sounds with a variety of new tastes and styles— from Bossa nova and surf rock to disco—Tropa Magica find their way on the new record in the form of sleek melodies and gorgeously winding, guitar-driven tunes. Inspired and informed as much by the duo’s Latinx identity, as well as an intention to create a “Sgt. Pacheco” (a play on “Sgt. Pepper’s”) sound that induces this celebratory exploration of universal themes of life and death.
Album opener “Meme City,” an oddball, sprawling confessional that paints modern life in its most absurd terms, is a head-spinning introduction to the world of Tripiando Al Infinito En Mi Recámara. From the swooning, grating vocalizations on “Entre Las Botellas” and the disco delirium of “Jack of Hearts,” the Pacheco brothers effortlessly mix genres into buoyant and original creations at every turn. But Tropa Magica still dazzles with their woozy, guitar-fingering on the humorously titled “Lou Reed’s Speedo,” a depressed but obsessed lament of unrequited love that meanders along on this bluesy tune—a match made in heaven when paired with the Pachecos’ wailed Spanish lyricism.
On “Surfin’ Brain,” Tropa Magica pay homage—as most west coast bands must—to the tender and laid-back grooves of surf rock, switch-footing halfway through the song from English to Spanish, and if those Beach Boys-esque textures are your thing, we promise they’ve never sounded better when the Pacheco brothers are singing it.
“Feels Like Tijuana,” a centerpiece of the album with its trilling horns and eddying melody, sees the Pachecos tackling a deep and bleak melancholy—but while Tripiando Al Infinito En Mi Recámara might slip in and out of this lulled angst, it never stews in it for long. “Starry Eyed Lover” is a galloping love ballad that follows the acoustic strumming of “Fotos de Ayer,” a breezy, piano-twinkling tune that stirs up some teary-eyes with its lush string section.
The album is characterized by this notion of “tripping into infinity The spectrum of emotion that is covered is grandiose, and some slips into depression and manic love are expected. But the allure of the Pacheco brothers’ songs comes from their simple honesty and devotion to their own identities; as the world grows more and more accepting of the diverse voices that exist in it, there are collisions that are occurring in music and culture that have never before been allowed to grow.
Like other artists and bands, Tropa Magica is as much about bringing their Latinx sound and culture into the wider world as it is finding new ways to reinvent and combine genres like cumbia into something that isn’t just contained to a single genre, style, culture, or generation.