One of the most anticipated Latin rock albums, Caribe Atomico, the new album by Colombia’s Aterciopelados, is a disappointment. I am not saying it is a bad production; as a matter of fact it is a good one. The dissatisfaction lays on the fact that their style has changed drastically since their previous effort. Alternative rock energy fused with Colombian folk music in the 1997 La Pipa de la Paz, and that was the key to their Grammy nomination for Best Latin Rock/Alternative Performance. Now in Caribe Atomico the pace has slowed down, and Aterciopelados have decided to explore other avenues such as R&B, pop, sampling and programming. The result is an experimental and adult-oriented album. What has not changed is singer/songwriter Andrea Echevarias’ unique and emotional interpretations.
The production opens up with the esteemed mix of calypso and dynamic industrial/pop called “Caribe Atomico.” This is followed by “El Estuche,” where Aterciopelados narrates their beliefs about the importance given to appearance in today’s society, over a crafted R&B beat, while elements of the Colombian pasillo show-up. The contagious ranchera with a soca/ska flavor called “Cosmos,” and the masterful blend of bossa nova, acid jazz, and calypso, (Santana-style) in “El Desinflar de tu Cariño,” round-up the list of tracks that make this album worthwhile. Other tracks like the animated “Mañana,” the folkloric “Reacio,” and the melancholic “Dias,” put Aterciopelados along other adult-oriented pop bands like Presuntos Implicados and Mecano.
Even though there is enough material to make Caribe Atomico a convincing production, its sound will discourage those that adore the sound of La Pipa de la Paz. A mature and experimental sound, led by plenty of samples and r&b/pop rhythms, dominates Caribe Atomico. Still, the distinctive voice and touching interpretations of Andrea Echevarria will make this album find its place within Latin rock followers, while adults embrace Aterciopelados’ new direction.