The most endearing thing about self-labeled “gypsy punk” band Gogol Bordello has always been its party-starting sense of fun. Since 1999, the band’s Eastern European-flavored melodic rabble-rousers — under offbeat and irreverent titles like “Think Locally, Fuck Globally” — have entrenched the Gogol groupmates in the hearts of the wanderlusty.

Gogol Bordello

Trans-Continental Hustle
Columbia

Gogol is spearheaded by the gangly and prominently mustachioed Eugene Hütz — and overwhelmingly, it’s Hütz’s uber-confident persona and Ukrainian musical influence that shape the Gogol sound. It’s also Hütz’s recent move from NYC’s ethnic grottos to Brazil that supposedly spurred the band’s new release Trans-Continental Hustle, both thematically and stylistically.

From its opening, Hustle sounds like classic Gogol. On leadoff track “Pala Tute,” Hütz appears as a young “chavo” in a caravan community who learns that “Girls they like the kissing as much as we do.” His gravelly hollered chorus of “Lela, lela, lela” ornaments the track’s frantic fiddling and rhythmic one-two step, making it unbearably danceable. “Pala Tute” is constantly in motion, save for a few points when the band members pause to harmonize their voices in an immigrants’ barbershop quartet of sorts. It’s a typical Gogol pump-up, but that’s certainly not a bad thing.

But Hustle also boasts a few slowed-down, melancholy tracks. “Sun is On My Side” and “When Universes Collide” are uncharacteristic not necessarily in their lax tempos, but more in their serious subject matter.

Hütz often takes on themes of love, but it’s usually a rambunctious sort — as exemplified on Hustle by the rough-and-tumble repeat-after-me yelp that is “Rebellious Love.” The lyrics of “Rebellious Love” might wax philosophical (“Love is running back to God / God is running back to man”), but the tune is carefree and infectious, and Hütz’s voice retains its typical animalian grit.

“When Universes Collide,” on the other hand, exposes Gogol’s secret calm side. Clearly unfamiliar to singing without his characteristic howling, Hütz sounds rather out of place as his heavy accent rolls over the warning, “Son, don’t get caught on the wrong side.” By the end of the track, he’s back to yelling, and a pair of pounding cymbals have pushed the song up to Gogol freneticism.

On its fifth full-length album and accustomed by now to years of frenzied touring, Gogol Bordello seems ready on Hustle to try something new — like a move across continents. But tracks like “My Companjera” and “Uma Menina” belie their titles. Try as it might, Gogol Bordello can really only linguistically integrate Latin American heritage into its musical immigrant amalgam. Of course, it’s no surprise; inability to escape one’s Eastern European roots is a common happenstance when one’s band includes a Russian accordion player (Yuri Lemeshev) as a permanent band member and assimilates hyperactive fiddling into nearly all its songs.

But that’s not to say Gogol doesn’t make a valiant effort. “In The Meantime In Pernambuco” interposes a sugary Latin-tinged guitar riff with a deliriously happy wordless group chorus worthy of Carnaval for its feeling of pure party joy.

Trans-Continental Hustle might not stray far from the Gogol Bordello breed, but it still adds to the band’s defining repertoire. Infectious and easy-to-shout lyrics like: “You love our music but you hate our guts” (on “Break the Spell”) are sure to energize concert audiences worldwide. And the rush of concluding and title track “Trans-Continental Hustle” pumps listeners into a frenzy that lasts long after Hütz’s culminating calls of “Contamination! Amalgamation! Cross-pollination!”

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