Mar 18, 2022
90
πŒπŽπ“πŽπŒπ€πŒπˆ: π‘π¨π¬πšπ₯𝐒𝐚'𝐬 𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐚𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐩𝐑𝐨𝐬𝐒𝐬

When ROSALÍA dropped her sophomore album EL MAL QUERER back in 2018, she changed the history and legacy of flamenco forever. The album, winner of a Latin Grammy, mixed classic rhythms from her roots with forward-thinking pop production to create something that was never heard before, pushing a sound that was mainly known in Spain to global status. Now, almost four years later, she returns with MOTOMAMI, a more ambitious and experimental record that sees the hispanic singer bringing even more genres into her unique mix, and the results are spectacular. 

Once MOTOMAMI starts, its premise becomes very clear: it's the work of an artist in constant transformation, trying to do her best to innovate in her own concepts and furthermore create something completely different from what she's done in the past. Over a muffled reggaetón beat with a super distorted bassline and cutting-sharp synthesizers, she explains on the opener "SAOKO" that she's a butterfly and her metamorphosis is about to be completed. Suddenly, a jazz break joins the track, and she finishes it by saying that she doesn't care about any style or stylist, which translates as a reaffirmation of her impulse to experiment and create distinctively weird and engaging tracks, as displayed throughout the entirety of this LP. 

Here, ROSALÍA widens her sonic palette, going from catchy reggaetón to dreamy pop and R&B, jazz, flamenco, heavy electronic beats à la PC Music, sensual bachata, smooth ambient pieces, piano ballads, and even some brazilian street samba. MOTOMAMI presents itself as an extremely versatile and diverse record that doesn't have much concern with cohesion. Its intention is to sound like a puzzle, where it's up to the listener to connect the pieces and form their own interpretation of what's being displayed, although there are a couple of storylines about relationships and fame that sort of make it easier to tie everything together (in my vision, at least). 

The floaty reggaetón-pop-R&B banger "CANDY", for example, sees ROSALÍA recalling an old relationship that didn't turn out the best way. With a sample of Burial's "Archangel", she claims that her partner hasn't forgotten about her, but she's already moved on and found a way to turn the heartbreak into art. On "COMO UN G", a melancholic piano and layers upon layers of spacey and sparkling synths combine forces to create a gorgeous, vulnerable ballad about letting go of a love that doesn't work anymore. She states that love can only be retributed with love, and for that reason, she can only hope that her partner finds peace and liberty in their life. It's one of the most stunning songs she's ever created. 

But not only of frustrated relationships lives ROSALÍA. On the surprising "HENTAI", she wanted to make it clear that sometimes she just wants to ride him like she does with her bike. What makes that song specially unique is the juxtaposition between the extremely sexual lyrics and the super lush and pretty instrumental. Hearing her sing "I'm in love with your pistol" in such an angelic way is interesting to say the least. The beat, produced by Pharrell Williams and Noah Goldstein (also the executive producer behind the entire record), starts with a lowkey piano that slowly builds into this insane gunshot-esque drum section that left me completely disoriented but in the best way possible. What's even more interesting to me is that she followed this track with a song about how she doesn't want to be anyone's "BIZCOCHITO". Not only that but sonically it's also a complete 180 from the last song. This time, she raps over an extremely fun and carefree beat, with a high pitched synth melody and grouped vocals that reminded me of some weird M.I.A. track from the 2000s. After such an honest love song, I definitely wasn't expecting that, but as she's previously stated before, contradiction is an essential piece of her transformation. 

However, although love is a consistent theme throughout MOTOMAMI, I'd say the main topic of the record is ROSALÍA's relationship with fame. The success that came with EL MAL QUERER affected her and her music in a lot of ways. There was more responsibility and expectation in her hand for the follow up, and she also had to deal with the crazy superstar agenda. As discussed in the bachata-infused collaboration with The Weeknd "LA FAMA", fame can end up being a traitor to an artist's career and personal life. They have to learn how to deal with ambition ("DELÍRIO DE GRANDEZA") and criticism ("BULERÍAS"), while still trying to stay authentic to themselves. Some lose their true essence in the way, as discussed on the "Gasolina" inspired "DIABLO", an absolute banger with a transcendental special James Blake appearance, but ROSALÍA seems well aware of her roots and the fugacity of fame. "G3 N15", that might be the most heart wrenching moment on the LP, is dedicated to her nephew Genís and is about how quarantine affected their relationship, hence the 3/15 reference on the title. It ends with a voice message from her grandma about the importance of family and it honestly made me tear up a bit because it was too sweet. On the closer "SAKURA", a gorgeous ballad, she compares the popstar lifestyle with the Japanese cherry flower: both last just for an insanely short amount of time. 

As you can assume from this long-ass review, there were a lot of amazing moments on MOTOMAMI for me. But there's one particular song that I haven't mentioned yet and that is potentially my absolute favorite: "CUUUUuuuuuute". When I first heard this track I was completely speechless. It's like she got her 2019 single "A Palé" and mixed it with the most euphoric street samba drum rolls and whistles I've ever heard. It's unbelievable how she managed to take this super cultural Brazilian style of party music to an experimental level. I've never heard something like that before. It is, in all honesty, revolutionary and genius. 

MOTOMAMI ends with a round of applause recorded from a real ROSALÍA concert and it's so well deserved. Even though a couple of songs didn't impress as much as the others ("LA COMBI VERSACE", "CHICKEN TERIYAKI") and ended up feeling too simplistic, the majority of this project was mind-blowing. The title track said it better: there's no competition, cause nothing compares to this. It hit me like a tsunami. [𝐀]

BEST: All (especially CUUUUuuuuuute) but worst
WORST: LA COMBI VERSACE

Track Ratings
1SAOKO / 100
2CANDY / 80
3LA FAMA / 80
4BULERÍAS / 85
5CHICKEN TERIYAKI / 70
6HENTAI / 85
7BIZCOCHITO / 85
8G3 N15 / 90
9MOTOMAMI / 90
10DIABLO / 85
11DELIRIO DE GRANDEZA / 85
12CUUUUuuuuuute / 100
13COMO UN G / 80
14Abcdefg / 75
15LA COMBI VERSACE / 65
16SAKURA / 80
stolenpositions's Tags
3 Comments
1y
great review!! amazing album
1y
@geidiprimes thanks! :)
2mo
you deserve all your flowers for this amazing essay haha
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