Album Review: Camila, "Elypse"

Despite the band's name - and its screaming fan base - Camila is not a woman. Camila is a trio of Mexican guys, so convincing in their big, melodic songs bursting with R&B touches that they held sway as Latin pop's top group for two superb albums that sold in excess of 1 million copies each. Following its eponymous sophomore set in 2010, Camila toured to exhaustion and lost a singer (Samo) to his own fledgling solo career.

Now, the group has re-emerged as a duo with "Elypse." The lineup is smaller, but the sound is bigger, augmented by a splendid string orchestra. And the songs are even better. "Elypse" boasts 12 tracks - all single worthy, all bearing the Camila stamp of muscular melodies and lush harmonies (courtesy of lead singer-composer Mario Domm and a trio of backup vocalists), and all with a big shot of attitude. The old Camila was romantic pop, but the new Camila infuses its ballads with pugnacious rock undertones through in-your-face drums and Pablo Hurtado's electric guitar.

These are songs that grow and swell and transform. First single "Decidiste Dejarme" starts with a somber, minor-key verse, played on piano and acoustic guitar, before exploding into the major-key chorus, with Hurtado switching to electric. There are epic instrumental breaks - the opening of "No Hay Vuelta Atras" evokes Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb." The lyrics are all about love and the pain it inflicts, but there's deeper gravitas on "Lagrimas," an ode to Mexican migrants that ends with strings painting a desolate landscape. Neither image is easy to convey. That Camila pulls it off after losing a key member shows that strength isn't always found in numbers. 


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