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Oye arrived a full five years after Aterciopelados' previous studio release, and a lot happened in that time. For starters both singer Andrea Echeverri and bassist Héctor Buitrago -- the Colombian band's most potent creative forces -- released well-received solo albums that, rather than serve to push them further out of the band framework, seem to have strengthened their resolve to coalesce as a tighter, more focused unit. The last Aterciopelados record, Gozo Poderoso, though nominated for a Grammy, was something of a wandering affair, the band shoving aside its rock roots and aligning with the growing trend toward electronica and pounding dancefloor rhythms. They've clearly chosen to return to what they do best on Oye, and it was a smart move: the melodies have never been stronger, the playing has never been more in sync (using a live drummer certainly helps inspire them to perform more like a band), the songs never catchier. Experimentation still finds its way into several of the mixes, but on such great new songs as the forceful peace call "Paces," the soulful "Don Dinero," the dance-happy "Cruz de Sal," and the hopelessly addictive opening track, "Complemento," the band has learned to temper its fiery attack and channel its early arena rock leanings into something more modest and ultimately more appealing. Aterciopelados seem more content to give the songs breathing room here, less intent on proving how sharp they can be: a more mature approach permeates the album as a whole. On lighter tracks like "Panel," with its shiny, chiming guitars and multi-layered vocal harmonies, and "Majestad," with its spare, droning Eastern flavor, Aterciopelados hint at other possibilities for the future, a hopeful sign considering that, during the solo album-producing hiatus, many fans questioned whether they'd ever see another Aterciopelados record at all. Fortunately, not only did they come through, but they returned more determined to be a great band.

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