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Amore Del Tropico

The Black Heart Procession
Amore Del Tropico
(Touch N Go)

I'm one of those people who is always to a band another chance. It's true that I've been burned many times before, but I've also had the pleasure of witnessing rebirths of sorts, and that's what keeps me hanging around and hoping. Although I'd heard music by The Black Heart Procession in the past, it never quite struck a chord with me. The majority of their output falls into the rather dirging side of the musical coin, and the small amount of work that I'd picked up by them didn't pique my attention to follow up further. After hearing some good words on their new release, though, and after seeing it crop up on several readers lists, I decided that I'd give the band another chance. As it turns out, I'm really glad that I did.

Amore Del Tropico is a rough concept album about the isle of love (hence the title) and a serious of odd events that take place there. It plays out a bit like a murder mystery set to music, and given the instrumentation on the release (and based on what I've heard from the group in the past), there's no doubt that the band has made a rather big stylistic jump. Unlike some bands who do it, though, the album seems remarkably assured, as if they've been hanging out in all the wrong places in the Carribean and perfecting this breezy, but wicked blend.

After a 10 second opening track, the group launches right into a delicious back-alley noir with "Tropics Of Love" and doesn't really look back from there. Dessert-dry guitars reverb out over an upright bass twang, strings, and some almost cha-cha percussion. Paulo Zappoli's slightly-strained croon fill out things perfectly, and vocals by Liz Janes and Susanna Waiche provide a sultry backdrop. "Broken World" continues the tale in a slightly more downbeat fashion, but again the lush instrumentation bubbles over into an amazingly stylish groove as lyrics trace out questionable paths for each part of a conversation.

From there, the group changes things up slightly, but still manage to easily stay on course. "Why I Stay" has sort of a dusty, southwestern country feel, while "Sympathy Crime" plays like the soundtrack to a Private Eye with its sleazy synth moans and wavering guitars. Hell, the group even pulls off a tropical ambient/lounge delight with "The Waiter #4" and a full-on stompin' rock track with "Did You Wonder." What it all comes down to is that the album is not only damn fun to listen to, but it has enough aura and vibe that you may want to make it your personal soundtrack for this summer. I know it came out last year, but it's one that shouldn't be missed. I knew there was a reason I didn't give up on bands I didn't find interesting the first time around...

Rating: 8.25