It feels different. That’s not only the title of Martox’s new EP, Se Siente Diferente to be accurate, but also a statement of fact that surrounds the release.
Back in 2019, a time that nowadays can feel like either two years or two decades ago, when the Dominican Republic-based duo delivered their debut album Canciones Que Puedes Usar en Mi Contra, their sound quickly garnered fans from all corners. It was lusty pop-cum-R&B coupled with lyrics that ebbed between the sultry and the playful—appropriate for longtime loves or friends with benefits. Tracks like “De Negro” evoked mellow feelings, with a silky texture to its production that invited couples to tease the evening away. Others like “Multiplayer” incorporated more groovy elements like percussion instruments and guitar over a syncopated beat that underlined the laidback, lounge-y vibes that permeated throughout the record.
This time Martox has gone in a different direction. The duo, made up of producer Eduardo Baldera and vocalist Juan Miguel Martínez, might not have veered completely away from the sound of their previous release but they have tip-toed a distance from it. When its first single, “Pausa” featuring Gian Rojas, was released, they stated their intent to switch up what listeners are used to hearing from them. “We want people to get physical and move,” they said at that time through a statement. With a feelgood disposition and funky riffs so authentic they recall a Commodores hit, they certainly accomplished that. They lean in even stronger into that device with “Pausa,” which is by far the eclectic album’s most danceable song, earning that title with a foot-tapping bassline and catchy, earnest lyrics that make it a compulsive repeat listen. “Diferente,” the closing track, flirts with the cadence and subject matter that became so familiar in Canciones, but the style is decidedly poppier and lighter on its feet. Still melancholic, but with light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s impossible to talk about Se Siente Diferente without addressing the simultaneously released music videos. Watched in order, they present a narrative arc of five friends (including Martox themselves) on a road trip with the album serving as the soundtrack for their escapade. The entire ensemble, directed with a precise and measured touch by Jorge Guillén and Víctor Cantisano, has an anthology-like feel as every video exists in its own particular genre of storytelling. “Mucho Mejor” is one uninterrupted static shot where we witness two of the protagonists silently share a seemingly bittersweet moment in front of a gorgeous dusk horizon. On the flip side, the video for “Suerte” is frenetic in all the best ways, tracking choreographer María Puma as she dances to the song inside a pizza spot as Juan and Eduardo sit nearby, bopping their heads and oblivious to her presence. The spirit of Fatboy Slim’s iconic “Weapon of Choice” video lives on in Santiago de los Caballeros.
All-in-all, the complete Se Siente Diferente project is exactly that: complete and mature in an exciting way that promises a bright long-term future for one of the most interesting and multifaceted duos coming up in music now.
It feels different, but it feels great.
Listen to Se Siente Diferente below.