Get del Real

Latin popster's rock-a-boom conversion proves no peril

Natalia Lafourcade skipped happily through her self-titled debut like a giggling six-year-old, strumming an acoustic guitar over bossa nova rhythms and unobtrusive turntables. She got loud like Kelly Clarkson on the choruses, murmured like Hope Sandoval on the verses, and charmed coquettishly all the way through. For her next trick, she's "joined" her touring band and decided to "rock." This mostly means her debut's pop-ist producers have been replaced on 11 of 15 tracks by Café Tacuba's Emmanuel del Real.

The first single, "Ser Humano," was one of the four songs produced by the debut's mastermind, Aureo Baqueiro; it's a dance-rock anthem with twangy guitar and a hiccupy, roaring chorus, and somebody needs to translate the lyrics for Clarkson or Ashlee Simpson like, now. But the tropical disco joy of the title track is an even better manifestation of Lafourcade's still-blossoming brilliance. Some listeners will surely hear Casa as a retreat from the weird cutesiness of the first album into a more staid Latin alt-rock sound. That's their problem. The keyboards on "El Amor Es Rosa," the art-rock stomp of "Suelo," and Natalia's amped-up vocals (she frequently sounds like the young Andrea Echeverri) are all the defense this album needs.

 
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