For a band famous for not taking itself too seriously, Ween can be pretty serious sometimes. Aaron "Gene Ween" Freeman and Mickey "Dean Ween" Melchiondo often explore deeply disturbing subject matter from the inside out—with no ironic distance—so the laughs on Ween albums are just as likely to be uncomfortable as they are goofy. Ween has described La Cucaracha as "a party record," but most parties will be stopped cold four songs in by the stunning "Object," a languid prog-pop/blues number that takes the protagonist of R.E.M.'s "The One I Love" and makes him a full-blown sociopath. Like a lot of great Ween songs, "Object" sounds like it's actually being sung by its batshit narrator, a kind of method music making that's still intriguing nearly two decades after Ween's debut.
Which is not to say that all of La Cucaracha will inspire the creeps. Ween's irreverence has helped make it one of the most consistently pleasurable rock bands in recent memory, and La Cucaracha zips wildly from the foot-stomping "Learnin' To Love" to the dynamite new wave corker "Shamemaker" to the electrifying 10-minute epic "Woman And Man." In some ways, La Cucaracha is just another sprawling Ween record—fans will love it, neophytes will be confused—but it's the best sprawling Ween record since 1997's The Mollusk.