Chambao

Pokito a Poko

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AllMusic Review by

Chambao became much more of a straight-up Latin pop group following their breakout Flamenco Chill. The good news about this disc is that Mari's voice is better than ever, with nary a trace of nasality, burning up melody lines that would destroy most other Latin singers. The non-looping pop song format works well, allowing her to show off her pipes while delivering a nice set of quirky, intelligent lyrics. The bad news is (unsurprisingly) that half the time, the musical material just isn't there, and the destined-to-be-dated millennial production style often overcompensates, fighting the very freedom that Mari's voice now exudes. Edi, meanwhile, is completely buried, his flamenco guitar reduced to the cheesy accompaniment role that is all too prevalent in Latin romantic music. Dani is long gone, presumably after getting the hint that his contributions were completely disposable in this setting. That said, there are quite a few catchy moments on the disc. When Chambao pushes the boundaries a little -- particularly when they try to incorporate outside influences as on the ambient droning "Ulere" and the bubblegum "Roe por Escalera" -- they always succeed, albeit with pop gloss to spare. And on "Sueño y Muero," the group succeeds on sheer performance energy alone -- in the manner of most great Latin music. Even if the whole disc were as good as the high points (and probably just under half the tracks are that good), Chambao is now competing in a different market. People expecting the same esoteric coolness factor of Flamenco Chill will be disappointed. People expecting a simple, perhaps superficially sophisticated Latin pop record will be pleasantly surprised.

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