Elvis Crespo has made a name for himself as a hardcore merenguero with an uncanny knack for coming up with infectious, repetitive ditties and phrases.

Elvis Crespo has made a name for himself as a hardcore merenguero with an uncanny knack for coming up with infectious, repetitive ditties and phrases. Feeling limited, perhaps, Crespo altered the formula on his previous album, Wow, Flash!, experimenting with different styles. Fans didn't take too well to the "new, improved" Crespo, which could explain why, on Urbano, he returns to the basics and demonstrates that basics are sometimes a good thing—especially when you're dealing with a musical form created for the dancefloor. Urbano kicks off with "La Cerveza," a typical feel-good,energetic Crespo track, before launching into other material that manages to highlight his unique voice within the genre. For all the back-to-basics feelings, there's actually more here than meets the eye, including the use of two trombones (notably on the first track), the electric guitar on "Bandidas," the piano improvisations on "Que Se Repita," and the constant yet coherent tempo changes in "Báilalo." Urbano is perhaps too enthusiastic and too long by a couple of tracks, including "Amarte Así," an example of how long, melodic phrasing doesn't jive with merengue's clipped pace. But overall the enthusiasm is well-placed, and Crespo fans will find much to cheer about.—LC

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