As it was when I first heard El Mal Querer by Rosalía, there was a spark keeping the flame ignited with new songs, after song, on her new album, Motomami. Like with “Con Altura,” Rosalía captivated my ears with lavish Latin-Pop grandeur. But, it begins to unfurl, and we get her best work; she infuses diverse genres, shifting to match the sonic motifs in Rosalía’s ascent to pop stardom. Motomami takes experimental directions, allowing Rosalía to explore beyond her comfort zone while retaining a sense of authenticity along the way. It breathes fresh air as she detaches from flamenco-pop past – there are minor blemishes, but it circulates into one cohesive romp that’s constantly catching you by surprise.
Rosalía’s talent is immensely great, wherein that talent reflects in auspicious song craftsmanship alongside producer El Guincho has shown an understanding of nuance and cohesion. When I was listening to El Mal Querer, there was visible awe as the two blended flamenco and pop while finding avenues to explore, like with “Piensa En Tu Mira,” which delivered these hypnotic drumlines, mellow bass grooves, and R&B-inspired vocals – that isn’t on Motomami. Rosalía and her producers continue to morph her sound, bringing along reggaeton-pop and hip-hop/R&B producers to refine and polish the production on each track, whether she is tackling bachata, pop, or salsa – specifically the early days of it.
It’s more than a classically trained voice that sees her meshing with these different sounds. “La Fama” is Rosalía’s foray into bachata, bringing along the Weeknd and making us forget everything we knew about music. Rosalía brings these naturalistic melodies that take influence from classic bachata songs from the late 90s early 00s, like Monchy y Alexandra, early Aventura, and Hector “El Torito” Acosta. However, Rosalía, along with her producers – El Guincho, Tainy, Frank Dukes, Noah Goldstein, Michael Uzowuru – who amongst others, contribute to the effervescent array of sounds on Motomami and make it feel fresh and new. “La Fama” has acoustic guitar strings at the forefront, melding it with infectious tropical percussion, you find yourself repeating on an endless loop. Rosalía and The Weeknd continue to show their natural chemistry when they overlap.
Motomami never shies to explore, taking extra steps to inject rhythmic bliss. There are tender moments where the production strips down from an elevated pop track like “Saoko” or “Bizochito.” These moments deliver emotionally rich performances, particularly with uniquely titled tracks like “Hentai.” However, it doesn’t matter the direction; Rosalía finds a way to make each track have its own identity, and like many, we are just reeling in the greatness of Motomami. One minute you’re vibing with “Diablo” or “La Combi Versace,” the next you’re taken on a trip through powerfully moving ballads, like “Delirio De Grandeza” or “G3 N15.” Each track embodies intricate complexions within the production, particularly the former – a pseudo-cover of the Justo Bentantcourt song, carrying a similar atmosphere. It builds on the sound levels of the subtle samba nuances underneath salsa overtones with the brass instruments before taking its experimental turn towards the end. Now, that may sound like a lot, but the delivery is on point as she shifts in various directions.
What’s great is that most of Rosalía’s slower tracks, whether ballad or not, take different turns like the more R&B and Hip-Hop focused “Hentai” or eloquent piano-driven “Como Un G.” The writing shifts the parameters of how we ingest the context, like “Como Un G,” which translates Rosalía’s definition of self-love and worth after a bad break-up. She shifts the relationship dynamic to “La Fama,” which tells a tale of fame and how it never takes you by the hand and steers you in the right way. As the two sing in the chorus, “Es mala amante la fama y no va a quererme de verdad/Es demasia’o traicionera, y como ella viene, se me va/Yo sé que será celosa, yo nunca le confiaré/Si quiero duermo con ella, pero nunca me la voy a casar,” which equate fame to that of an absentee lover that appears when it benefits them. This shows Rosalía’s ability to craft a remarkable story beyond a personal level. Though when she takes that personal turn, like on “G3 N15,” a ballad for her nephew – or the synth-heavy “Saoko,” which talks about Rosalía’s transformation into one of Pop’s future superstars.
Unfortunately, Motomami trips up with “Chicken Teriyaki,” a reggaeton-pop flex track that suffers from weak writing and maligned melodies. It isn’t like “Diablo,” which meshes both styles with Rosalía’s vocals like a perfect acquiescence of sounds as the club begins to turn up. Like past albums, Motomami brings an understanding of Rosalía’s artistry, enveloping her strengths and weaving them into this master class of work that got me repeating it consistently. Some minor choppy moments can derail a listener, like her second speaking interlude, which fits within the confines of the album if you are going to go from start to finish. Motomami is one of the best albums this year.
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