Tony Gallardo’s ‘Juventud Guerrera’ LP Is an End-of-Year Dance Floor Blessing

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The Tony Gallardo saga is akin to those Marvel shows on Netflix. Like those series, the Mexican electro savant’s aliases and projects weave and wind, each with their own genre, vibe, catalog, and to a degree, narrative arc. Predated only by the allegedly defunct María y José, Tony Gallardo II is perhaps the most mysterious of all his stories, largely due to Tony’s initial uncertainty of the project’s direction. Tony Gallardo II can be best described as his pop timeline – or as pop as it’s ever likely to get. But after two sketchy EPs and some vanishing singles, Tony Gallardo II finally found his footing in an exciting and deformed party manifesto called Juventud Guerrera.

Tony is the quintessential over-thinker, and you’ll never hear the same version of any of his songs twice. One of his most recognizable tracks, “Tormento,” has been making the rounds for years, with each new iteration more distorted and higher pitched than the last. And this feels like a fitting lens through which to view Juventud Guerrera, as much of the music has been heard before, yet it’s now more cohesive and refined than ever. “Líder Juvenil” was given a complete facelift, retaining the sticky synths and disco strings from its original release, but with new lyrics that make it a whimsical singalong jam. And Juventud Guerrera’s title track, a song that disappeared off the internet almost as suddenly as it showed up, comes back as the cocky driving beat of the album, complete with sports car effects and screechy chorus.

After finding himself re-inspired by the old, Tony Gallardo II beelined for the new. Last year, almost to the day, Tony released “Brujas,” a creepy emo breakup anthem, the first of many small teases heralding a new era of polished sad-boy feels. “Mentiras” and “Cuchillada” soon followed, paving the way for more engaging pop synths on which to lay his dense introspective lyrics. It’s also worth noting Tony Gallardo II might be borrowing more from his siblings than he cares to admit. Songs like “Tu Primer Fantasía” and “El Sentimiento” are funky immersive instrumentals clearly influenced by his aggressive dark techno project Boi Patrol. The same can be said about “The A.M. Void,” a cerebral, mid-album breather reminiscent of the deep psychological chasms of María y José.

2016 was an incredibly productive year for Tony, since he released EPs as both Boi Patrol and El Capricho, but he left the best for last with Juventud Guerrera, an album so fine it may even challenge the brilliance of María y José’s narco opera Club Negro. This album still has political undertones, though it’s far more grounded and emotional than his previous releases. Tony has somehow found the wherewithal to reign in his doubts and deliver a collection of fun and confident songs that shift his persona from creepy loner to life of the party. Juventud Guerrera is glorious, and this refreshing new chapter could be the one to finally release Tony Gallardo from the obscurity he holds so dear.