Review of the album Basta Mafia! from the band Zdob si Zdub:
Hello and welcome to my review of the album Basta Mafia! from Zdob si Zdub. I hope my English skills didn’t decrease much so that you can understand most of the text.
Firstly, I want to say that I’m a huge fan of this crazy band for around 6-7 years now and I know every song of them and almost every video on youtube which features them.
I was highly anticipating the new album until So Lucky was presented on the Eurovision Homepage of Moldova. My first impression of So Lucky wasn’t very good, I thought the song wouldn’t fit the Zdubiis usual kind of music. But as Eurovision came nearer, the song grew on me and I had to say the performance of this song during the finals left me with a big grin. Since Eurovision 2005, the drummer and the guitarist have changed, the entire band changed it’s style, but what I saw and heard was still Zdob si Zdub. So Lucky became my favorite song in 2011. But I still feared that the new album could become a disappointment. Changing their style and surprising their fans is one of Zdob si Zdubs trademarks, but I couldn’t imagine a style that could capture the spirit of the band better than their wild and energetic mixture of punk, folk-music and rap, which was heavily featured on the last albums since 450 de oi, while Hardcore Moldovenesc was pure hardrock and Tabara Noastra and Agroromantica showed us the first infusions with the folklore music of moldova and russia.
Now I’m holding the CD in my hands and I will go through every song, pointing out what’s good and what’s bad in my opinion. I will rate it with 1 to 5 points out of 5 and in the end the whole album will get a score from 1 to 5 points. The final score will depend on the average score of all the albums songs as well as some general thoughts and feelings about the album.
Well, I’ve talked enough off-topic-non-sense-stuff, so let’s go:
1.) Basta Mafia:
The opener of the album with the same title, Basta Mafia is an atmospheric ska-composition, a strange combo of the wild “normal” Zdob si Zdub-style and some sort of country music. Roman points out what he’s thinking of the mafia (“Run them out!”). A song called Jos Mafia, sounding similar to this song, found it’s way to the internet in 2009. The older version was sung in romanian
and sounded more like the old Zdubiis. Both versions have their advantages, but this song is very good, so I’ll give it a 4/5.
Hmm. At first I was like: “What the hell is this???” But after listening to it for a few times, I start to like it. Its about Roman running towards a better future, leaving behind a painful (or at least “not-so-good”) past. It’s a positive and funny song (maybe the funny part wasn’t meant to be funny, but I like the exaggerated, “epic” end ;) ), but I can’t give it 5 points, because there’s a tiny thing I’m missing: Their full energy. It seems like they’re holding back a bit. 4/5.
3.) Eternal Kiss:
Strange song. Sounds a bit like 80’s pop-rock, which is cool, but the lyrics confuse me. Is he talking about a vampire-girl or what? All the talking about death and stuff at the end is a bit weird, but the “dui-dui-dui”-parts are cool :) I’m not sure about rating this song after listening to it for about 6 times straight, so it’ll be a 3.5/5 for now.
4.) Gipsy Life:
Oh yeah. Old school rock’n’roll, funny and cool. What city, what country? Doesn’t matter Roman, you and your friends are welcome everywhere in the world :) But as cool as this song is, it’s a pity that it’s a bit too long and that it needs about 1000 years until it finally begins to rock. So I’ll “only” give it 4.5/5.
5.) We are free:
Err… What do you still feel? I thought I’d understand more of your texts when you’re singing in english, but it seems like I still don’t get anyting :D. The song is very melodic with all the piano-stuff and the girl with her “uuuuuhuuuhuuuhhuuu” in the background (yeah, you know what I’m talking about after this fantastic explanation :D) It sounds good and even a bit catchy, but it’s not my favorite kind of music. Hmm. I think 3/5 will do.
Very cute and sad. It’s strange… It’s good but I don’t want to listen to it too often, because it’s so touching… This is unfair, but I’ll just give it 3.5 out of 5 because of my taste of music and not because of the quality of this song (I don’t like songs which are just about tears and sadness and stuff… Some professional reviewer would probably give it more though).
The first of the two songs sung in romanian. Excellent work, Roman is great in this one and the backgroundmusic is subtle, but fitting. I don’t understand a word, but it seems to be about an outlaw or freedom fighter in the balkans… Anyway, I like it and give it 4/5 (at this point though, I hoped the album would come up with a few faster songs…)
8.) Trece vremea omului:
THATS EXACTLY WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!!! Give me a simple rock’n’roll-beat, add some exotic ethnic instruments and shout “Hai-la! Hai-la!” and you’re making me happy. Outstanding. One of the best songs of this album. I love it. Especially because this times it sounds a bit more oriental. Oh my god, I want to see this performed live when I’m going to see them in Cologne!!! 5 out of freaking 5!
Aww… listening to Nistru means we’re through with Trece vremea omului. I have to admit I don’t like this song very much. I was all hyped after Trece vremea and hoped for another song of equivalent energy and fun, but then the sad stuff started again. Only good thing about this song is the brass stuff in the end. 2/5.
10.) Good bye:
Well, this song is better than the last one, melodic and sweet, but what’s about the rapping woman in the end? This part messes the song up a bit… But the rest is done well. 3/5.
It seems that the album is starting to get better every song since Nistru. The intro is funny :) The beat is catchy, the lyrics don’t make much sense, so far I’m happy with this song! It’s a bit too long and I don’t like the chorus very much (Do I get this right? It sounds a bit arrogant, this whole “I am the king, everything is my plaything” stuff…), but overall it’s a solid song. I'm still not sure if the title (Fresh, Sexy, Spicy, Organic) is really fitting... 3.5/5
12.) The holy fuel:
Ahh. Pleasing. The Zdubiis can make as much social criticism as they want (by the way they’re really good at this) as long as the background music is like this :) Totally loved it since it was presented under the name Moldovenii s-au nascut. The Romanian (live)version was slightly better in my opinion but I still have to give it 5/5. And Roman is totally right, as long as we got fuel, everything is “alright”…
13.) So Lucky:
Well, here we are. The end of the album. I’m SO LUCKY I bought it :) I think I don’t have to say much about this monster of a song. 5 out of 5. Crazy song, cool story (a bad guy becoming a good guy because he’s crazy for a woman out of his reach) and their performance last year on Eurovision was astonishing… It’s a pity there aren’t much songs with that much energy on Basta Mafia! …
Okay, so far, so good. We got 13 Songs with an average score of about 3.8 out of 5. That’s a great score for an album released in 2012, regarding all the garbage that was published in 2011… And it’s possible that no album coming out this year will please me as much as this (I’m almost sure about this) BUT I have to decrease the score a little bit. After listening to the whole album, I feel a bit sad because of the general atmosphere created by most of the songs. They’re sometimes almost depressive and I don’t think that’s the kind of music such a bunch of happy guys should play. Well, at least they always made us happy with their positive, energetic songs :) And this kind of music is very rare on Basta Mafia! So I’ll have to give the album a 3.5 out of 5. I know it’s not fair but I’m just writing what I’m thinking/feeling.
I think I understand what they were doing, leaving their roots and trying to inject their musical skills into the more western-kind-of pop rock music to show us western Europeans that their capable of playing this kind of music as well as we do. And I can ensure you, they do a better job than most of us western Europeans. However, this album didn’t tap their full potential. I think they know that, but I had to say it.
Roman, Mihai, Sveatoslav, Andrei, Victor and Mazilu:
You’re highly skilled, charismatic musicians and entertainers. I love you and every artist who was in this band in the past for making such an great amount of fantastic songs and for your energetic and wild performances. The music business needs guys like you. You don’t sell yourself, you’re doing what you are wanting to do. And I admire you for this. Your new album is beautiful, it’s a bit too dramatic in my opinion and doesn’t fit you as well as your previous works, but it’s really good music nonetheless. It would be nice if your next stuff would be as crazy and powerful as your older albums, but in the end it doesn’t really matter. Just go on doing what you want to do. My ears will follow and very likely my heart will, too, since it’s doing so since I saw your performance of Boonika Bate Doba on Eurovision back in 2005.