Paulina Rubio's decision to return to an all-Spanish format for Pau-Latina might acknowledge the 2002 English crossover attempt Border Girl as a slight misstep if her latest didn't drop its bits and pieces of Mexican instrumentation and language into such an ambitious and entertaining stew. As its colorfully kinetic, Björk-like cover art suggests, Pau-Latina is all over the place, and usually at a hundred miles an hour. "Baila Que Baila" mashes ringing mariachi guitars into the blips and bytes of an Ashanti-style contempo R&B number; there's even a hip-hop break to suggest the contribution of a Ja Rule or Jay-Z. "Quiero Cambiarme" and "Ojalá" take traditional horn blasts and robust supporting harmonies into a wild and disorienting future of neon-light electronica, while the dancefloor-ready "Algo Tienes"' bashing percussion and rock guitar would fit nicely on Shakira's Laundry Service. (The track also appears in an instrumental remix format.) Throughout Pau-Latina, there's an alluring scratchiness to Rubio's voice. Is she perpetually on the verge of raucous, contagious laughter? It's a definite that "Alma en Libertad" hijacks the lead riff from John Mellencamp's "Small Town," but it's an equally robust feel-good anthem that's impossible to shake from the brain. Neither the melodies nor the adventurism stops there. The lusty "Dame Otro Tequila" would make a nun thirsty, while the ballad "Mía" is a lush departure from the album's constant kicky beats. Pau-Latina is sure to please fans of 2000's Paulina. But the feisty, stylistic restlessness at its heart does more for Rubio's crossover potential than the pleasing though ultimately same-y beats of Border Girl ever could.
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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus