Label: Universal Music Latino
Release Date: 2010-12-22
“The North and South poles are melting/ Nobody was expecting it/ Dolphins are mercilessly annihilated/ It seems like a chimera/ But it is not a chimera/ Nor a fiction novel.” This is not a case of “lost in translation:” the original Spanish is just as bad, believe me. Before he became (along with fellow Colombian Shakira) the hottest thing in Latin pop, Juanes was Juan Esteban Aristizábal, a well-established rock star thanks to his band Ekhymosis. His 2000 debut, the Gustavo Santaolalla-produced Fijate Bien, was an alternative-rock classic that unjustly went unnoticed until Juanes, out of the blue, swept the nominations at the 2000 Latin Grammys and became an instant sensation. Then, from the second album on, something happened. Juanes has embraced a pop spirit (the kind that even your grandma can enjoy) that earned him more and more fans while alienating his rock base. His powerful vocals and superb guitar work, coupled with great production, and enough good songs (despite often-insufferable hits) per album kept him growing in mainstream popularity. But my patience with the lack of good lyrics has ended with this album, the first not produced by Santaolalla. Stephen Lipson (Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox) does what he can with lines like “there are very few real friends/so I want to thank you for being with me,” and even with great tracks like the alternative cumbia “Yerbatero” and tasteful guitar, there is so much sugar that after the last track you want to take a shower in BP sludge. Juanes owes us the great rock album that he’s perfectly capable of recording. This one’s just not it. PS: “Parce” is short for “parcero,” a Colombian term for friend. Only Juanes knows why he separated the letters with periods, as in B.U.D.D.Y. Whatever.