Aventura

Love & Hate

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    6
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For their third album, Aventura truly mix up styles, from Dominican bachata and meringue to R&B, pop, and hip-hop. While they want to appeal to the boy-band crowd (perhaps a little late for that, though), they certainly don't succumb to cookie-cutter syndrome on this disc. The arrangements are stripped-down, and often unusual, whether on the tortured "Hermanita" (about domestic violence) or the self-aggrandizing "Deja Vu." There's a definite sophistication to the compositions and production, which is all in the band's hands. And to show they really haven't lost their roots, there are two true meringues, "Pueblo por Pueblo" and "Me Voy," where they're backed by el Prodigio. There's plenty of interplay between the voices throughout, and even some reasonably convincing rapping on the hidden track, "Don't Waste My Time." This time out, it seems, they've built on the success of the breakthrough single from their previous album, in an attempt to win a wider audience -- yet without selling out. It's a balancing act, but one that, for the most part, they carry off. Although it gets a little schmaltzy in places (as on "Papa Dijo") there's still plenty of grit left. And full marks for forging their own path, too.

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