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J Balvin – Energia album review

The Colombian star delivers a feel-good album.

J Balvin
Credit: Blue Wrasse
J Balvin - Energia

Credit: Blue Wrasse

Latin music is a genre that is incredibly under-represented here in the UK. Aside from the short wave of success from artists such as Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias and Jennifer Lopez in the late 90s, we don’t get to hear much from artists of the genre. Thanks to the ability to get your hands on all kinds of music via streaming and download services, the way music is being consumed and the types of music listened to are changing.

Colombian artist J Balvin has been working his way up the ladder of success since the release of his debut album Real through EMI Colombia in 2009. It wasn’t until he signed to Capitol Latin and release La Familia in 2013 that he experienced a breakthrough. Yo Te Lo Dije (I Told You) was the start of Balvin making inroads across a variety of territories. The album scored three number ones in Colombia and set up his latest album Energia to be his most successful yet.

Energia arrives in the UK through Blue Wrasse on the back of its huge success on the US Latin Chart where it hit number one. It’s the star’s first album to impact on the Billboard 200 peaking at 38. The album has already spawned the number one US hits Ginza (named after an Instagram filter and a city in Tokyo) and Bobo (Fool). Ginza broke the record for the longest running number one by a solo artist on the Hot Latin Songs Chart lasting an incredibly 22 consecutive weeks.

For Energia, Balvin has incorporated a variety of music genres to create his own sound. There are moments of traditional reggaeton along with more broader elements of pop, R&B, hip-hop and trap. The end result is a mostly uptempo collection that is the perfect soundtrack for a party. Energia opens with Veneno (Poison) and it’s one of the more subtle moments on the record. The beats bring to mind some of the cuts on Justin Bieber’s most recent album Purpose. The song is about Balvin being drawn to women and packs in plenty of swagger surrounding his growing success.

Current single Safari features Pharrell Williams, BIA and Sky is a pure party track with reggaeton rhythms winding their way around the catchy melody. Pharrell Williams contributes his parts in Spanish and the end result is a sexy track with an infectious groove. Balvin teams up with some of the biggest stars in Latin music on the album including Daddy Yankee on Pierde Los Modales (Lose Manners) and Yandel on the electro-beat driven Acercate (Come Closer).

One of the album’s finest moments comes on the gentle lilt of Primera Cita (First Date). It’s a more laidback affair than much of the record and Balvin gives a more restrained and smooth vocal. Balvin recounts a first date that quickly progresses due to the attraction between him and his date. It’s lustful and yearning, and it’s a sound that brings out the best in him.

Elsewhere on the record No Hay Titulo (There’s No Title) strips Balvin’s sound back accompanying him with an acoustic guitar. It shows a different side to the star and highlights his versatility. Snapchat features minimal beats while exploring the current sexting trend, Malvada (Evil) combines shimmering beats with reggaeton, and Solitario (Lonely) is a dreamy mix of electronic rhythms and driving beats.

Energia is an album that wants you to let loose and feel good. Throughout the 15 tracks on the album, Balvin oozes charisma and draws you in with his silky smooth beat. Looking at the current Latin Charts, it’s no surprise that he’s dominating. His songs are catchy, memorable and pretty damn sexy. Energia is a fantastic record featuring plenty of variety that will help transport you to a tropical island even on the wettest of English days.

 

Track Listing: 1. Veneno 2. Malvada 3. Safari (feat Pharrell Williams, BIA and Sky) 4. Bobo 5. Sigo Extranandote 6. Primera Cita 7. Pierde Los Modales (feat Daddy Yanke) 8. Por Un Dia 9. No Hay Titulo 10. Acercate (feat Yandel) 11. Snapchat 12. Hola 13. Ginza 14. Solitario 15. 35 Pa Las 12 (Fuego feat J Balvin) Record Company: Blue Wrasse Release Date: 28th October 2016

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