Mano De Dios, Sleep Through The Morning Light

Ian Gittins

By Ian Gittins

on 01.24.12 in Reviews
A vivacious, irresistible strain of flamenco-hued Latin party music

London gypsy-punk quartet Mano De Dios will not endear themselves to English sports fans with their name, referencing a notorious 1986 football World Cup incident when Argentina’s Diego Maradona, playing against England in a highly charged post-Falklands War fixture, illegally punched the ball into the goal and attributed his team’s subsequent victory to “the hand of God.” Thankfully, anybody not harbouring quarter-century-old sporting grudges will find much to love in this ebullient debut. Mano De Dios boast members of Spanish, Cuban and English provenance and their forte is a vivacious, irresistible strain of flamenco-hued Latin party music that suggests an edgier, more attitudinal take on the Gypsy Kings. Their trump card is Spanish singer/guitarist Jackson Scott, whose prodigious songwriting talents incorporate punk, rumba and samba tropes while never straying far from good old rock ‘n’ roll. He ladles sly spaghetti-western guitar over “Lay Your Head Down,” channels Sandinista-era Clash on “Need Some Light” and tartly berates a no-good woman on “Crème Caramel”: “I hope someone stabs you out like a dirty cigarette.” Yet Mano De Dios’ mood is always resolutely upbeat: Even “Why Do We Do It,” lyrically a melancholic musing on human fallibility, sounds as exuberant and abandoned as Rio Carnival, as does all of this kinetic, irreverent and life-affirming debut.