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Entre Rios

Entre Rios are a trio from Buenos Aires who have an oddly unique way of creating their music. Gabriel Lucena is a sound engineer who creates all the music for the group while Sebastián Carreras is the one who writes all the lyrics before singer Isol adds vocals to the pieces. This arrangement has apparently worked for the group for some time now, as Onda is the third full-length release from the group (in addition to several EP and compilation appearences).

Even moreso than their past releases, this newest effort from the group seems to find them moving into an even more mainstream pop ground that will undoubtedly gain them some new fans, but may also feel a bit strange to fans of their older work. Opening track "Cerca & Extraño" opens the release with clicky beats and multiple layers of syrupy synths while Isol adds her lovely Argentinian accented vocals. On "Drama," a whip-crack kick drum thumps away with some amazing synth progressions for one of the best tracks on the entire release as Isol adds some of her more subdued vocals on the entire release.

Unfortunately, the middle of the album is also closer to the middle of the road in terms of the sound of the group as "Claro Que Si" bounces along with a cheeseball synth melody and a super-poppy beat that's a little too close to Venga Boys for comfort while the electronically-treated vocals reek of top 40 bubblegum grabs. "Odisea" follows and the 4/4 beat and soaring vocals once again feel like billboard grabs.

Fortunately, the release doesn't keep the same course, and closes out with some excellent tracks in "Tantas Veces," "Sobra," and "Altas Horas," all of which progress with more textural melodies and subtle arrangements. "Sobra" is a particular standout, alternating between quiet ambient passages and guitar/synth workouts that break out like the best work from Lali Puna. At times their best album, an at other times their least-inventive, Onda is an alternately entertaining and frustrating listen.

Rating: 6.5