Rauw Alejandro – Saturno: Review

After delivering an exuberant delicacy of sounds on Vice Versa, Rauw Alejandro returns with new and expansive soundscapes that shroud over typical reggaeton tracks mixed within. There is no denying Alejandro’s allure of the electronic genre as a whole; from sounds that evolved from regions and eras, Alejandro is using it as an influence during this ascension as a master of the dance floor. He’s finding himself amongst the stars, taking us inside this futuristic hive where reggaeton grows beyond the perreo and dembow, allowing itself to be something grandiose. Saturno, or Saturn, is taking us through varying levels, or rings, surrounding the core aspects of the album and delivering many danceable heaters. Though it’s easy to understand the lyricism you’ll get from reggaeton artists: danceable, flavorful tunes focusing on sex and seduction, amongst similar themes within that realm – it isn’t all black and white, and the depth brought about by luscious melodies and fruitful choruses and verses make it a bewilderingly fun ride with a few missteps along the way.

Saturno, by all accounts, aims to deliver futuristic overtures and undertones, whether through the production or from the vocals, to take us to the stratosphere of his mind, where we see how he musically thinks. It excels at that and some; it’s an album where the essence of reggaeton isn’t lost, but the electronic avenues he takes are astronomical, no pun intended. Sometimes you’re getting hints of dancehall, sometimes Miami Bass or EDM, but the overall vibe leaves you in a trance where you aren’t noticing your body grooving. Though I can’t speak to how you motion per tempo, the transitions between tracks are smooth – save for the interludes/skit. But the lavish futurism expressed through the eyes of a reggaeton artist getting past conceptual pop norms and taking his music to new heights. We’ve heard it done before with the disco and funk elements of Rauw Alejandro’s last album, Vice Versa. Here, he’s taking that influence from the transitional period where Disco became more Post-Disco/House/Electronica with an essence of life with his vision as he runs the pop gambit. 

It predominately flows like a steady river with no rapids; however, that isn’t to say there are bumps along the way, with certain rocks (tracks) spotting up that make you shift, aiming to avoid it, even though it’s still there. But the way these sounds continuously expand and express visual splendor – you hear it from “Verde Menta,” “Corazón Despeinado,” and “Dime Quen?” – it’s an electrifying EDM track, resonant of the late 80s, early 90s Eurodance, an adequate but rudimentary EDM/Reggaeton hybrid, and luscious Miami Bass, respectively. But with that more standard track in the middle, the surrounding songs keep it afloat as Alejandro’s melodies continue to capture that futuristic aesthetic.

Unfortunately, Saturno sometimes retreads particular rhythms and sounds in reggeaton that doesn’t grip you, like on “Lejols Del Cielo” or “Ron Cola,” which barely grows beyond the straight line it follows. Additionally, there is a moment that feels like off-choices in the tracklisting – the skit near the end doesn’t add anything toward the overarching futuristic theme, more so acting like a hype-centered bridge between sections of tracks. It doesn’t fit like two previous interludes with viscerally pungent beats. Its translucent nature allows it to absorb these dark yet luminous synths into its ecosphere, where the engagement is high, and its futuristic tech shines through. In “Más De Una Vez,” we hear these laser synths shoot in the backdrop and through the stars of its Electronic/Reggeaton core. We get the essence of this through varying tracks, as his producers use it to envelope more than its core genre complexions, like on “Dejau,” which adds notes of Afrobeat or “De Carolina,” and its use of light industrial electronica. It isn’t like Vice Versa, where the influx of pop grandeur laid a smooth path of consistency, where you couldn’t help but keep it on a loop. 

Saturno is lavish and inspiring, though it’s a little far from perfect. Rauw Alejandro carries an identity he vigorously puts forth as producers eloquently build these electrifying beats with him. Though that isn’t to say it’s perfect, a few issues here and there causes it to lose traction as this steady locomotion of dance bravado. But most times, Alejandro is winding up and delivering a fast one, melodically, almost allowing for the sidesteps to become afterthoughts. They are still there and ultimately take away from the levels this could have reached. It makes a splash and is ready to fire us up as winter dawns, even if it isn’t to the highest temperature, like a 2000s Sean Paul song.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Selena Gomez’s Delivery Isn’t Much Of A “Revelation” on Revelación: Review

In pop music, there are some artists who show fright when it comes to leaving a comfort zone. If they make it unique and akin to their style, like Dua Lipa’s foray into disco from electropop, it is to be admired; the others push out products of lesser quality in order to have mainstay in relevancy, based on trends. This isn’t necessarily the case on Selena Gomez’s new EP Revelación. She delivers an array of music in Spanish, which is, at times, as hollow as Kevin Bacon in The Hollow Man. Like the film the output is fine, but you just never care for much of it. There are a lot of colorful instrumentals from the production team and some fine features from two of reggaeton young stars, but they aren’t enough for some of the bland vocals from Selena.

Selena Gomez is no stranger to singing in her “ native tongue,” with previous excursions involving stagnant lines here and there, as well as her cover/duet producers mixed together on a rerecording of “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” by Selena. She has shown the ability to flow with rhythm without butchering pronunciations, but her range when singing in English has a more flourished and vibrant sound. Like Rare last year, Selena shows strength as a co-writer on Revelación. This EP isn’t devoid of bland sequences, chorus melodies and source material, but the co-writers on some of the songs help deliver on the overall sonic textures as they mix it all together (save for a mediocre chorus).

On the track “Baila Conmigo,” Selena Gomez  turns on the snooze button consistently with her dull delivery. It makes the track have slight equilibrium since it loses you with Selena, but brings you back with Rauw Alejandro. The other feature/co-lead artist brings unique grandstand moments like Myke Towers smooth and decadent flow on “Dámelo To,” and DJ Snake’s glitzy production on “Selfish Love.” The latter of which, is a phenomenal standout with the tropical percussion and the elegant transitions between Spanish and English. The writing is especially strong on these two, with the additions by co-writers Julia Michaels and Kat Dhalia respectively.

A lot of the co-production is handled by Tainy, whose success and consistent turn out of quality in the reggaeton genre has contributed to the affluent grandeur of the current pop/Billboard chart zeitgeist. Fortunately Selena Gomez only delivers two mediocre vocal deliveries, as it lacks that next level Selena can achieve. “Selfish Love” succeeds by working around her strengths with the melancholic BPM. “Adios,” also stands out as one of the few spanish tracks that has Selena working with her vocal strengths, with the glamourous pop production.

“De Una Vez,” shines as a melancholic latin-pop ballad that continues with beautiful bliss on “Buscando Amor.” The contrasting charm of the production elevates the dance floor with a level percussion pattern. It adds cadence to the range she evokes, which on most of the album doesn’t land as strong on some of the later tracks. 

Selena Gomez opens and ends the Revelación on high notes, with the middle of the pack having too many instances of mediocrity. It’s a solid mark on her career that shows she can take a leap and create different and unique songs in Spanish and grow her artistry more.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.