Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Amadou & Mariam: Folila [Nonesuch, 2012]
As if their charming calculation has become routine--maybe for them, maybe for us--this never takes off the way Welcome to Mali did. But it does hang in there, and rewards attention, especially as regards its many cameos: less big names Santigold and TV on the Radio than Tuareg guitarist Abdallah Oumbadougou shredding louder than Nick Zinner or Scissor Sister Jake Shears disco and proud. Not so welcome is perpetual guest Bertrand Cantat, a lapsed French rocker-activist who did a mere four years for beating his girlfriend to death in 2003. True, Cantat's harmonica tenses nicely against Ahmed Fofana's ngoni in "Sans Toi." But mostly he sings, and he's no Tunde Adebimpe or Kyp Malone. There's such a thing as taking tolerance too far. A-