Art-damaged dance-punk bands are more ubiquitous these days than Ryan Seacrest's smiling mug, though not as likely to induce dry heaves. More closely attuned to the no-wave movement when they emerged in 1996, El Guapo's early recordings were expansive, boundless excursions with a free-jazz sense of adventure and early punk's ambivalence toward melody. Keying the band's sound is Peter Cafarella's unusual keyboard/accordion configuration, but they're all accomplished musicians, capable of tackling everything from clarinets and oboes to glockenspiels and anything else they can lay their hands on.
Their Dischord debut, 2002's Super/System, was a dadaist pastiche of quirky irreverence across 18 songs, more than half of them less then 90 seconds long. It was as unpredictable as a conversation with Crispin Glover and often as incomprehensible. But the mind isn't always the seat of power, and El Guapo's unintelligible unpredictability might be its greatest strength. Its latest album, Fake French, tones down this outrageousness and actually delivers -- shock of shocks -- something resembling songs. Are they selling out, or is it all a clever marketing ploy to draw in listeners before lowering the sonic boom live? Find out for yourself.