Via Dove's debut full-length, El Mundo Latino, is in line with the hurricane-rock atmosphere of its live shows. Jagged guitar riffs, gigantic drums, deep-grooved rhythms and vocalist Andy Shadburne's twang-burnished growls dominate these eleven songs. Familiar touchstones abound: the Black Keys' lo-fi blues ("Need Someone"), Everclear's grunge-pop ("I Don't Mind"), Kings of Leon's dirty Southern boogie ("(I Can't) Recognize the Signs") and Pearl Jam's arena-caliber, classic-rock nuance ("Treasure"). Highlights include the slithering, bass-driven "All We've Got" — which features some dirty, sleazy saxophone from Manoj Mohan — and the blink-and-you'll-miss-it snarl, "Fast Times." Shadburne is a clear but powerful singer, and his dynamic range easily handles these variations on a rock & roll theme.
Latino rarely slows down, however, and that's fatiguing over the long haul. The aforementioned "All We've Got" and the lighter-worthy ballad "Take a Chance," both of which are subtler and more midtempo, are a welcome change of pace. And despite Latino's well-produced songs — make no mistake, the album is slick without feeling glossy or fake — the record is manicured rock & roll dirt. While coming from a sincere place, these songs are so seamless and well-constructed, they often feel like raucous replicas instead of truly unhinged riots. This isn't a fatal flaw; after all, Latino is Via Dove's first album. The quartet has plenty of time to explore (and draw on) unseemly turbulence and develop its own unique voice.— Annie Zaleski
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