Various Artists

Latin Seduction: The Best of Merengue

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The Latin Seduction series from Madacy has taken a page from the checkout-line romance novel industry, plastering a smoky-eyed hunk on the cover of each release. The music therein, while not without its moments, is designed -- like the collection's cover art -- to appeal to the most people possible. Cuts from Frenesi de Merengue, los Barbaros, Banda la Cocana, and Carillo make up The Best of Merengue. It's an upbeat set list, but the music relies too much on synthesizers and programming, which makes the vibrant human vocals and harmonies sound flat where they would otherwise shine. The hip-hop-inspired verses and frenetic call and response of Criollo's "Chevere" are a standout, as are the sultry horns and rhythm of "Suavemente," the only track contributed by Banda la Cocana. Frenesi de Merengue is the most prominent contributor, but only "La Noche" is able to muster any real feeling. Latin Seduction: The Best of Merengue might offer listeners some solid eye candy. But it doesn't do much to stir the ears or move the feet.

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