I’m a fan of Gogol Bordello. As such, I wanted to do justice to Super Taranta! by checking the Ukrainian-English dictionary definition of “Taranta” and using that definition as a springboard to launch into some sort of potential metaphor for the album, because I thought, “Hey, maybe the name has some kind of relevance.”
But I couldn’t find a translation, even when I wrote “Taranta” in Ukrainian text. I got “Did you mean …” then some longer, indecipherable word that means “package-equipment.”
So we’ll have to settle for the disappointing fact that “Taranta” likely means absolutely nothing, but sounds really fun. Conveniently, I believe we’ve found our metaphor.
Bordello’s got some wit, sure; the hysterical “American Wedding” (“Have you ever been to American wedding?/ Where is the vodka, where is marinated herring?”) and the cynical “Your Country” (“Your country raised you/ Your country fed you/ And just like any other country it will break you”) are proof that frontman/songwriter Eugene Hütz is actually a very clever man with some intelligence.
But the message is disguised, as it often is with Gogol Bordello; the Ukrainian gypsy punk group delivers each song with melodic punch and accordion. The screaming Hütz, with his thick Ukrainian accent and vocal energy, really carries the songs. It’s a lot of fun--more so than most other East-European bands out there--but any wit is overshadowed by how smooth its blend of European folk and punk is.
Musically, the band is damn impressive. Proving this are tracks like the flamenco love ballad to alcohol, aptly titled “Alcohol,” and the Yiddish-influenced “Supertheory of Supereverything,” a tongue-in-cheek criticism of the Bible.
If Hütz and crew have a flaw, it’s that their albums are interchangeable; Taranta! sounds like any other Gogol Bordello record, and the music will start to get a bit boring in the future if they’re not careful. But for now they’ve still got an accordion, some humor and lots of creativity--so much so that their album titles don’t even make any sense.