Sin Frenos

by: La 5ª Estación

A half-decade after breaking into the Latin pop mainstream with their second album, Flores de Alquiler (2004), La Quinta Estación dropped a bandmember, Pablo Domínguez (guitar, bass), and pared themselves down to the core songwriting duo of Natalia Jiménez (vocals) and Ángel Reyero (guitar) for their fourth album, Sin Frenos. The two remaining bandmembers alternate songs on Sin Frenos, each penning six songs, and once again collaborate extensively with producer Armando Ávila. Practically a member of the band by this point, Ávila co-wrote much of the album and is credited with contributing everything from guitar and piano to chorus vocals and arrangements. While Jiménez's songs tend to be lighter affairs that highlight her strong vocals and presence, Reyero's tend to push the band in a harder, rock-oriented direction than on past albums. Indeed, the primary difference between Sin Frenos and its predecessor, El Mundo Se Equivoca (2006) -- and Flores de Alquiler, for that matter -- is the lack of ballads à la "Me Muerte" and "Algo Más." Both power ballads written by Jiménez showcase the power of her vocals, these two singles are the band's two Mexican chart-toppers to date, and given their success, it's surprising that there's no equivalent on Sin Frenos. Not that there's a lack of stand-out songs here; it's just that they're more upbeat and rock-oriented. The album-opening lead single, "Que Te Quería," sets the tone right away, exploding with guitars, drums, and synthesizers. An arena rocker written by Reyero, the song is hardly pop, and is Latin only in the sense that it's sung in Spanish. It's followed by a lighter song, "Me Dueles," a vocal showcase for Jiménez that plays up the band's Mexican qualities (a bit unconvincingly, as if the band is self-conscious of its Mexico-by-way-of-Spain lineage). And so the album progresses, alternating fairly straight-ahead rock songs (generally written by Reyero) with lighter, more varied songs (by Jiménez). In addition to the two aforementioned highlights, other standouts include "Recuérdame," the closest the album comes to a power ballad (featured in two versions, one of which is a duet with Marc Anthony), "Esta Noche No," and "Quiéreme Mucho." The many stand-out songs aside, what's most impressive about Sin Frenos is how it's yet another impressive effort by La Quinta Estación. After two albums laden with hit singles, a couple chart-topping smash hit ballads, and five years of international success and touring, one might expect the band to fall into a holding pattern. That's clearly not the case with La Quinta Estación, however, as Sin Frenos points in subtle new directions for Jiménez and Reyero without forsaking any of their hitmaking ability. ~ Jason Birchmeier

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