The average unsuspecting gringo has no idea: Across Latin America, Los Tigres del Norte are huge. Regularly selling out stadiums of more than 80,000 seats, registering global sales of over 32 million records yeah, that kind of huge. Playing continuously for close to 40 years now, the five-piece band still features the core original members: the four Hernández brothers (Jorge, Hernán, Eduardo and Luis) and their cousin, Oscar Lara. Over an output that averages something like 1.4 records per year, Los Tigres have established themselves as the leading performers of norteño, although occasionally touching on rancheras, cumbia and ballads.
Detalles y Emociones is something like the group's 56th album (really), and it effortlessly defends Los Tigres' near-mythological position as the fiercest cats in regional Mexican music. To untrained ears, this is at first bouncy, relentlessly cheerful music, a style driven by the oompah of a syncopated 12-string guitar and rollicking accordion. But the lyrics reveal more nuanced emotions, often with a bittersweet intonation, valuing family, true friends and honest effort. The catchiest tune here is also the most overtly political: "El Muro," which is a no-holds-barred attack on Bush-backed immigration "reform," is a lament that accuses the American president of missing the point. "Better to build a bridge," Jorge urges in Spanish. "Just as you see us in the country, you also see us in offices / You know you need us on your team / And even in the kitchen." It's not surprising that this is also the only song with a bit of spoken English (and on a bonus version, French, German and even Farsi). It's relatively fiery rhetoric, but the best norteño has historically been socially engaged. From a group that remains the best of the best, we'd expect nothing less.