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Though no longer vanguardists, veteran Mexican rock band Café Tacuba still retain their deep curiosity

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Now in their 27th year, Mexico City quartet Café Tacuba have arguably done more than anyone to give Mexican rock music a broad, serious platform worldwide. As key players in the ascent of rock en español, the group refused to sing in English and deftly forged a vanguard sound that encouraged countless others in Latin America to follow their own creative imperatives rather than imitate bands in the U.S. or Europe. Café Tacuba recently dropped a strong new album, Jei Beibi (Melotrón)—their first in five years—and while it reinforces that they’re no longer trendsetters, it also shows they’ve retained their deep curiosity. Singer Ruben Albarrán’s helium-squeaky tone is still capable of hyperactive hectoring, but when he’s at his best he luxuriates in the infectiously attractive melodies that ripple through every song regardless of stylistic setting. The new album constantly changes complexion, whether hijacking reggae, fizzy new-wave synths, hypermainstream summer pop, sentimental string-sopped balladry, or even Indian electro in the middle of “Me Gusta Tu Manera,” an unexpected twirl. Café Tacuba have lost none of their elan or imagination, and the fact that they’re headlining one of Chicago’s largest stages in the middle of the summer testifies to their continued stature; Jei Beibi suggests they have no interest in simply tallying their accomplishments.   v

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