Tinariwen's home country of Mali has changed substantially in the last twenty years. The Tuareg rebellion in 2012 led to a far more conservative Islamic ruling party that went as far as banning the public performance of music. As a result, Tinariwen no longer records in their native country, but instead recorded their newest album between the suburbs of Paris, southern Morocco, and Joshua Tree (a terrain probably closer to their homeland). But listening to their newest album, Elwan , it's hard to believe that they've suffered any political turmoil. The delicate micro-guitar riffs that spin into hypnotic melodies is still there with gorgeous, droning vocals and infectious drum riffs. And like their last few albums, there's a hint of western influence with guest appearances from Kurt Vile, Mark Lanegan, Alain Johannes, and Matt Sweeney. "Sastannaqam" might be the closest they get to traditional rock. Though all their call-and-response is there, the track opens up with a startling funky bass line that's never been heard on any of their other albums. The lead guitar is also noisier and more distorted that it's ever been. It's someone channeling the screeching of Neil Young's electric guitar through Saharan winds. But among the joyous tracks like that come serious ballads that seem to fit into any political landscape. "Ittus," written and sung by Hassan Ag Toumani, one of Tinariwen's founding members, tragically repeats (in Arabic) "I ask you, what is our goal? / It is the unity of our nation / And to carry our standard high." Elwan continues a string of albums that makes Tinariwen seem incapable of producing a bad album. Even two decades in, no one sounds quite the way they do.