Kinetica - II

II, Kinetica
Dilema Industrial, Chile
Rating: 71
by Andrew Casillas 

Over the last few years, the state of web music criticism has evolved into an atmosphere of “hot sports takes”-style socio-political-gender-bias diatribes. While there are plenty of great pieces out there illuminating the discussion of the current pop landscape, the majority of these works take on the air of “WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?” as a means of generating easy click-bait and easy Facebook shares. But it’s important to keep in mind the power that the current web has in exposing and charting the growth of promising artists. That doesn’t mean the latest “buzz bands,” or groups with a steady P.R. machine. What I’m talking about are the “long game” artists, the ones who don’t storm out of the gate with a fully-realized masterpiece, but who exhibit the tools necessary to eventually create something unique.

And that brings us to the intriguing, yet somewhat overestimated, Kinetica. It’s been three years since the Chilean actress/songstress Emiliana Araya released her debut album under her nom de aural. While her debut was promising, it felt entirely weighed down by the many Ana Tijoux/Michita Rex sound-a-like tracks. In the interim, “Halo,” Kinetica II’s first single, has been garnering high praise and anticipation from many of her contemporaries (and CF faves), including Javiera Mena, Mamacita, and Fakuta.

Kinetica's II is a much more fully realized and adult piece, similar to Jessie Ware’s outstanding Devotion. Off the bat, “Halo” sets the appropriate tone—moody, intelligent, and above all sexy. It’s more akin to MBP (think Marisa Monte) than any sort of hip-hop, but it’s far from dinner party catnip. This, along with the more beatzy “Iré Tras de Ti” and full-on garage stepping “Quisiera,” showcases Araya’s versatility and justifies the opinions linking her as the conduit between Chile’s vibrant hip-hop and sophisti-pop scenes.

But, ultimately, Kinetica's sophomore album falters in keeping its distance from producing anything truly bold. The album as a whole plays it far too safe at times, never giving the sense that it’s going to rock the boat melodically or musically, which is a shame considering Araya’s fluid and versatile vocals. But Araya is playing the long game. If we’re lucky, we’ll get to see the fully realized potential the next time up. Until then, we’ll just have to wait and hope.