Rating: * * * *
Rob Garza and Eric Hilton have been conjuring up tranquil and stylish beats and releasing them on their Washington D.C-based record label, Eighteenth Street Lounge, since 1996.
The suave - in both looks and sound - production duo have always been politically motivated but the agitating mood on Radio Retaliation reveals them as suit-wearing revolutionaries more than ever before.
While the music is laid-back, slinky and still rooted in lounge, with dub, bossanova, and eastern influences, it has an extra powerful punch and pulse that hasn't come through since 2000's The Mirror Conspiracy. And on El Pueblo Unido ("The people united will never be defeated") there's a celebratory mood.
The album is helped along by guests like Nigerian musician Femi Kuti (son of Afro-beat pioneer Fela) on Vampires, with its sweet reactionary groove; Anoushka Shankar's exotic sitar shimmers above the subtle scratching and shuffling beats of Mandala; and soaring singer Notch fires up the skank of Blasting Through the City.
In the recent past Thievery Corp's sound has often lapsed into pastel wallpaper but on Radio Retaliation they're painting the walls red with renewed vigour. And like The Mirror Conspiracy it's an album worthy and capable of being put on again and again.