A decade into their career as a unit and Colombian “electro tropical” act, Bomba Estereo deliver their most cohesive and direct project in their latest album Amanecer. The title – which means “breaking dawn” – clearly signals what the trio feels is the awakening of the group’s most pop-friendly energies to date. This is their first album on a major label – Sony Music Latin – and working with a new producer, Ricky Reed, who brought some new flavors to the Bomba mix.
There’s a swirling sensation that accompanies the construction of the melodies here – which is part of what makes them more ear-wormy than your average cumbia. The single “Somos Dos,” for example, works because the track exceeds the expectation of the genre – with its lush melody and Liliana Saumet’s vocal acting as an instrument of love, the material goes from very good to another level of excellence.
Half-time, bass-heavy tempos are explored on this album. Trap music is ubiquitous in both the global underground and mainstream, yet when a group as versed in cumbia and other organic Latin musical vibes weave their style around the sound it yields some unique (and impressive) results. Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz’s early 2000s run through American Top 40 springs to mind on tracks like “Soy Yo,” “Cadera” and title track “Amanecer,” which all feature call and response, sexy come ons and booming basslines that owe much to the current EDM-as-pop landscape. Hearing this combination of genres isn’t surprising, as much as it is an ode to how the world’s getting down right now. As a party-friendly trio, Bomba Estereo excel by providing their own spin as only they can.
“Fiesta,” the album’s lead single, has a vibe more in line with the work that led to Bomba Estereo’s rising stardom, adding a Dutch house feel that delivers. The marching band-style snares and chopped vocals bring an effusive joy to the party that’s already started, the organic Balearic vibe of the production being pushed over the edge with the modern additions.
“Raiz” slumps into lo-fi bass territory, yet a single repeating guitar chord and oddly crunching cumbia style keep the track from heading too deep into the vastness of the low-end void. More plaintive dance ballads “To My Love” and “Mar (Lo Que Siento)” showcase what makes this album great, too. Touches of cumbia, salsa, moombahton and many other genres appear (and disappear) here in a dizzying, yet somehow cohesive manner.
The magic of Bomba Estereo’s Amanecer is its confidence weaving a defined line between such diverse sets of grooves, while never letting the energy of the party wane. It’s a summer party that stays exciting all the way through – invoking the spirits of the past, present and future of Latin-friendly dance in balanced measure.
When a group best known for sweet, progressive cumbias can paint outside of the box and also craft trap-style anthems that feel like parties in either Atlanta or Bogota, that’s impressive. When they’re also able to elevate their craft and the genre in which they create to another level after a decade of recording, that’s amazing, too.