Review Summary: Tropical electronic pop that suffers for not maintaining the tempo it sets itself.
Picking up where 2008’s Alegranza!
left off, El Guincho’s sophomore effort is yet another dance-ready record erupting out of the beautiful Spanish coast, though one that lacks the substance to deliver anything more than fleeting euphoria. Opener “Bombay” is the best example of Pablo Diaz-Reixa’s talents, with pounding steel drums underlining a layered, lush Caribbean-influenced rhythm, and it displays perfectly how overwhelmingly visceral his music can be. Though the prominence of his vocals in the melting pot of synths and samples is an aspect that’s often earned him comparisons to Animal Collective and Panda Bear, Pop Negro
is much more rooted in the tropical Balearic sound associated with Barcelona, his home, as well as the streamlined Afrobeat style experiencing a resurgence in popularity amongst indie electronica acts.
The high points of Pop Negro
are where Diaz-Reixa is at his most celebratory and unrestrained and moments like the vocal hooks in “Ghetto Facil” and the stop-start pounding of “FM Tan Sexy” prove it. Unfortunately, the exuberance that bursts out of the clutter of his best songs is a characteristic seen too rarely here, and songs like “(Chica-Oh) Drums” and “Danza Invinto” end an album that started with such drive on a flat and uninspired note. Too often the songs feel timid and even, at points, exhausted, exemplified by the plucky "Muerte Midi" and its focus on a single hook that can't quite hold a 4-minute song on its own (and not helped by a tame, '80s soundtrack saxophone either). Given Pop Negro
is an album that thrives off energy, a lack of it drags down everything else with it. El Guincho offers something fresh and vital to those with any interest in artful, electronic pop but where his music soars is in its intuition, tempo, and enthusiasm and the problem is that from “Bombay” onwards, Pop Negro
is a party that's rapidly dying out.