El Guincho's debut album Alegranza is as bright as the feathers of the parrot, as sparkly as the fireworks, and as warm as the palm trees that adorn the cover. The music flows like melted butter, twists and turns like a mountain highway, and shimmers like the sun on a scorching summer day. The Spanish producer/singer throws a whole mess of ingredients into the mix, including various strains of world music (like Afro-pop, tango, Spanish folk music), indie pop, techno, and post-rock and sends it spinning into a blurred, whirling rush of sound that never falters. El Guincho uses samples, found sounds, chopped and looped instruments, and his own plaintively sweet vocals to make Alegranza; much like Panda Bear did with Person Pitch, he's created a world and sound of his own here. There are reference points both new (the trance-y, repetitive drive of Stereolab, the off-kilter, child-like soundscapes of High Places, and the hi-tech folk of Animal Collective) and old (tracks like "Kalise" sound like a modern, warped update of a classic Latin dance band record (Beny Moré or Perez Prado) and elsewhere there are samples of schoolyard chants, folk songs, and lounge ballads) but really you'd be hard pressed to find an album that mixes and matches sounds and cultures so effortlessly. Entertainingly, too, as every song on the album sounds like an excerpt from the wildest, most joyful party of the year. Finding a song more suited to cavorting about merrily than "Costa Paraiso" or "Prez Lagarto" would be a task, staying in a bad mood with "Palmitos Park" or "Fata Morgana" sailing past near impossible. The only tiny fault of the album is that there are few dynamic shifts to be found; it starts off sounding like a Technicolor blast of happiness and very rarely (until "Polca Mazurca" ends the record on a soothing-in-comparison note) changes either tempo or mood. It's also not a record for world music purists, ideologue indie rockers or by-the-book dance music enthusiasts; you have to be a fan of the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup approach to music ("Hey, you got Afro Pop in my Indie Rock!" "You got Spanish Folk in my Lo Fi soundscape") to appreciate El Guincho's sound. If you are one of these lucky listeners, Alegranza is pure candy.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra