My knowledge of Nortec Collective to date has been superficial at best. I know what they do, am aware that they release music somewhat regularly, and get the “deal” overall. That being said, it’s the sort of music that I am apt to call anathema. It’s not my aversion to Norteños (which I have heard far too much of blaring from cars, restaurants, and bands throughout my life), or my general suspicion that the iPad is the worst thing to happen to music in a long time by idiotizing the creative process in new ways that, to date, only Adam Forkner has really made truly clever use of. Well, now with a new release from Nortec stalwarts Bostich + Fussible, it would seem that their sound has grown but remains rooted in the almost hilarious overuse of Northern Mexican tropes. Bulevar 2000 (named after a notoriously violent road in Tijuana, their hometown) doesn’t reinvent the wheel as much as it rides the old ones to the death.

Something in me feels reviled at the oom-pah bass lines and accordion lines that have become synonymous with the Norteño sound. When paired with beats that only barely are capable of being called techno, the result is hit or miss. The rare times that it actually hits with effective usage of both elements, the fusion is akin to the Nils Petter Molvær school of horn-led electronic music, albeit transported from the Plugged Nickel to a beer-filled (or pulque-laden) dance floor just south of the border. That is to say this isn’t the sort of techno or dance album to be frivolously played, as placing it in a living room could turn your house into a theme party or an awkward attempt at levity. Compounding the confounding dichotomy is the overuse of canned loops straight from Apple’s extensive library. The effect feels lazy but obsessed over, as if one half of the duo presented a track’s master session and the other meticulously mixed and edited the song from there – an aspect of this album that trips up songs in their own navel-gazing. ‘Bulevar 2000’ should be a horror story in love song’s clothes, but its straightforward admittance of, “This is not a love song/a love song…fear of night/keeps you awake,” makes the whole song redundant and uselessly boring. Even the clever use of horn fills and slap bass punches cannot save this track from itself and its dub delayed mix, nor can its penultimate contradictory lyrics about being a love song (which are more cliché than the denial).

All that aside, some tracks are genuinely enjoyable. ‘One Night’ rides a minimal beat and slinky bass line to great effectiveness, minimizing the awkwardness of the accordion and trumpet (really – they have no need to be there) and the painfully dull vocoder. ‘Punta Banda’ manages to incorporate the Norteño aspect quite well and comes off as a genuine collaboration between otherwise disparate genres instead of a slapdash shoehorning of the two. Unfortunately, those are the only two real standouts on the disc. Attempts at storytelling almost always fail, with ‘Centinela’ being so painfully dull that its five-minute running length feels more like Chinese water torture than a Mexican folk story and ‘Bulevar 2000’ continuing the do nothing to raise real awareness concerning the violence in Tijuana that wasn’t already known. With so many misses, it’s almost hard to believe that the whole thing is a rounded 45 minutes and not pushing the hour mark.

Plagued by slower tracks in the second half, Bulevar 2000 peters out by the halfway mark and attempts feebly to ride the fumes. The overall sound undeniably has its fans and a proper setting, but at this point hearing every sonic trademark of both genres simultaneously has become an arduous task and not a pleasurable experience. How ironic that the last track is called ‘Oh Yes!’ when the proper reaction proves to consistently be “Oh God No!’ And the award for most obvious pun goes to…