Amarte Es un Castigo

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Like the Afro-Cuban, Spanish, and Brazilian traditions, regional Mexican music has its purists and its nonpurists -- people who use Mexican rhythms in a gutsy, hardcore fashion, and people who use them for pop purposes. Both approaches have their place; if Spanish-style flamenco can accommodate both the Gipsy Kings and Tomatito, there is no reason why the regional Mexican market shouldn't accommodate Los Bravos del Norte as well as a more pop-minded outfit such as Mojado. Amarte Es un Castigo is a lot like the relatively low-fat, low-cholesterol, nouvelle Mexican cuisine that is popular in parts of California -- it doesn't cater to Mexican purists or strict traditionalists, but it's still tasty and flavorful. With this 2003 release, Mojado offers yet another dose of the sort of sleek, smooth, and romantic Mexican pop that has made them a major attraction in that market. Amarte Es un Castigo (whose title means "loving you is a punishment") doesn't break any new ground for the band; true to form, Mojado uses elements of norteño/Tex-Mex and Cumbia Mexicana (the Mexican interpretation of Columbia Cumbia) for pop-minded purposes. Tracks like "Que No Me Digan" and "Muchacha Bonita" aren't pure, unadulterated norteño any more than they are pure, unadulterated Cumbia, but they do demonstrate how nicely a norteño or Cumbia Mexicana influence can work in what is essentially a Latin pop environment. That said, there are no compelling reasons why someone who has only a casual interest in Mojado would find Amarte Es un Castigo to be absolutely essential; nonetheless, this is a pleasant and satisfying, if fairly predictable, disc that the group's hardcore followers will appreciate.

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