Romancero, La Bien Querida

Elefant Records, Spain ***1/2
Rating: 79
By Carlos Reyes

The most awaited debut album in Spain in a few years finally arrived; Romancero by La Bien Querida is the ultimate point of conversation and debate among music journals. The leak of her Maqueta, which includes seven of the tracks from this first official album, has been praised enough particularly as it is seen as a stimulating revival of the romantic Spanish song; ideally constructed out of pure lyricism and good vocals, which Ana Fernandez has no problem excelling on. The critical reception is split between those expecting a continuum of what was leaked, great songs without supreme production behind it (don’t want to call them purists), and those that appreciate the cacophonous density of an actual grounded first production. So is this the immediate classic we were expecting for Spanish pop? It probably isn’t, but it spotlights an artist with everything in her favor to achieve a classic very soon. Aside from the inflated expectations, Romancero is actually a great first album. Ana is a fantastic songwriter, she isn’t afraid of reaching the peak or hit bottom; the songs can sound lousy and still hold space for possibilities. The first three tracks “Ya No”, “Corpus Christi” and first single “De Momento Abril” are highly elevated in the new production; the orchestration on these tracks is quite supreme, not in excess but enough to feel glossy and straightforwardly classy. Next track “A.D.N.” continues the magic and becomes my favorite moment of the album, in part for the vocal collaboration of Joe Crepusculo in his most charming and dazzling dimension. When “9.6” shows up, it distorts the solid formation the first four tracks had built; the upbeat here is quite ridiculous, it wants to prove a song can be melodic regardless of its rhythm and although it’s a great idea, it doesn’t work as an actual motif. This idea shows up again in another flawed track “El Zoo Absoluto”, which sounds rude to the ear with the radical potency of its strings. Once Romancero returns to the initial feeling with “7 Medidas de Seguridad” it’s a great relief, and although it never fully recovers, La Bien Querida still offers one of the best pop albums from a new artist this year so far.

♫♫♫ "Corpus Christi" (demo from Maqueta)