Album Review: Gogol Bordello – “Seekers and Finders”
Ukrainian folk-punk is a fairly niche genre, so it’s surprising on paper that Gogol Bordello ever crossed over into the wider consciousness of the music community in the UK, and further afield, in the first place. However, one listen to a single track and you immediately get a sense of the unique and absolutely bonkers sound that the band put out. For me, my first exposure to the band was their 2005 effort, Underdog World Strike (featuring Start Wearing Purple) followed by a blistering live performance the following year at the Reading Festival. In the since time, I have dipped in and out of their various offerings, but I’m very pleased to report that the latest album, Seekers and Finders, is just as relevant and visceral as Underdog World Strike was for me.
Seekers and Finders kicks off in fine form with Did it All, a track that has a great fast pace, a catchy chorus and a certain anarchic quality that really set the album off on the right path. It’s instantly recognisable as a Gogol Bordello track, and it has all the familiar elements that you would come to expect from such an unusual outfit. Tracks like Break Into Your Higher Self, You Know Who, and Saboteur Blues have a similar sound, which greets you like a familiar old friend at a party. It’s big, fun, enjoyable and distinct.
However, that is not to say Gogol Bordello are a one trick pony. There are a couple of more brooding tracks like the title track and If I Ever, which have a slower, more nuanced style, although that is something that I’m not sure entirely suits Gogol Bordello’s frenetic sound. Equally, it’s good to see a band experimenting and attempting to move into new territory. They adopt an almost ska-esque quality for Love Gangsters which is much better received, while there are big sing-a-long choruses on Still That Way, and Familia Bonfire, although the latter also delves into an almost country style that again I’m not entirely sure works for the band. It’s not bad, by any strecth but it feels like an odd fit. This album is an eclectic mixture of sounds, but there are certainly weaker points when they veer away from their signature folk-punk roots.
There’s something to be said for how the songs on this album will work in a live setting, and there are certainly tracks that will sound fantastic in a big venue with people going crazy for it, and certainly songs that fit in with the canon of Gogol Bordello. They have always been a band best experienced in person, and although this album has a few low points, it certainly does enough to make me look forward to hearing the majority of it down the front, bobbing up and down with the rest of the crowd, and at the end of the day I believe that is what’s most important.
A good, if not great, album. Gogol Bordello adventure and experiment on Seekers and Finders, something they should be applauded for. It doesn't always work, and results do vary, but this is certainly an interesting and enjoyable album from Ukraine's (via New York) foremost purveyors of folk-punk.