Manu Chao deserves all the accolades he's received for this album. A hybrid of languages and rhythms, he doesn't sacrifice lyrical substance for musicality. Since Chao is the type of singer whose songs are best heard in a small club, the disc has an intimate feel about it.
Sung in Spanish, French, Portuguese, and English and covering ground in reggae, African rhythms, acoustic songs, the album is dedicated to Mexico's rebels, the EZLN, and Sub Comandante Marcos is heard on "Por El Suelo (esperando la ultima ola)".
There are several love songs here. Some are to women, some to the Left, and some to the solitary man.
"Clandestino" and "Desaparecido" are tales of rebels, be they political or otherwise.
On "Welcome to Tijuana" he sings about that distinctive border city known for "Tekila, sexo y marihuana".
"Luna y sol" is a contagious dance number, while the English language "Bongo bong", featured in The Next Best Thing, has a worldly feel to it. "Mentira" is a cool reggae.
"Je ne t'aime plus" is all about suffering of the heart, as is "Dia Luna..Dia Pena".
Along with Rage Against the Machine and Ani Difranco, Mano Chao shows that music can still be subversive and that ideals are not just trends to be sacrificed.