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CD Review: Bomba EstÉreo's Blow Up 

The Deal: Doesn't matter at all if you know Spanish or not. This sly, explosive hybrid of electronica, hip-hop, reggaeton and Colombian rhythms will thrill you. Between electrifying Colombiana lead singer Li Saumet and electronic ringleader Simon Mejia, the recording gallops at a frantic, ever-changing pace that enthralls and surprises. Emphasis on this recording is on Colombian rhythms: cumbia and champeta; a definite plus.

The Good: Mejia lucked out in choosing charismatic Li as front woman. However, the recording isn't merely a dance track. It's got humor, depth, style, plus you can dance non-stop to it. Saumet's rapping is fiery while Mejia's loops and instrumentation is multi-tiered and nicely arranged. While others describe vocalist Li Saumet as "Joan Jett singing cumbias" or liken her to Mala Rodriguez, she also reminds listeners of Blondie, M.I.A. and a revved-up, tropical, post trip-hop Morcheeba. Was wise of record company Nacional to release the explosive "Fuego" as the first single. There may well be several more candidates like, "Feelin," "Juana" and "La Nina Rica."

The Bad: Who needs someone like Joan Jett singing cumbias, in Spanish? Besides, what are cumbias and who needs 'em?

The Verdict: The world needs cumbias, especially new, electronic, psychedelic cumbias. You'll see. In the meantime slip on your dancing shoes or just groove to the layered elements in this groove happy recording. Close your eyes and enjoy elements of dub, trip-hop, dance hall, trad and electro-tropical. The language is the beat, and it's infectious.

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