Julieta Venegas is a Mexican art-chick singer and songwriter who for years has leaned on the exotic—drawing on cabaret, learning the accordion for the hell of it. Heck, the Tijuana native fronted a ska band before traveling down the hipper rockera road.
Now, it seems, Venegas makes her quirkiest move by going unquirky. The girl’s turned to Solid Gold pop—mo’ ritmo, mo’ hooks. For Si, her third album, Venegas traveled to Madrid to write and record songs with Spanish hired-gun Coti Sorokin, most known for his work with singers Diego Torres and Emanuel Ortega. Much like Madonna and Orbit a few years back in Angloville, Si‘s Torres-Ortega collaborations jump with a playful yet focused energy. On most, Sorokin and Venegas use drum programming, assorted keyboard loops and squonks, and even the aforementioned squeezebox to re-create Swing Out Sister’s smart, bygone pulsations—all while Venegas keeps generating highly literate words of heartbreak. Album opener “Lento” proves that the word velocity sounds much sexier in Spanish, while the sensuous melody and robotic beats of “Mala Memoria” make a ball-busting lover’s spat sound like foreplay. Jewel should consult accordingly.