In the aftermath of a fairly public break-up, Camila Cabello is rising from the ashes stronger than ever. ‘Familia’ is Cabello revitalised, marking a shift in sound much closer to home. This album truly feels like a love letter to Cabello’s Cuban roots, luxuriating in the vibrancy of latin pop and allowing it’s bright, joyous flow to melt away the heartbreak.
fCabello’s foray into latin pop is brilliant. She fits into the sound like she was born for it; ‘Celia’ thrums with charm, its chilled out, summery energy absolutely weightless. Ed Sheeran feature ‘Bam Bam’ also thrives in the sunshine, twisting pain into glorious celebration, reminding us that “that’s just life, baby.” ‘Don’t Go Yet’ is also a total celebration, the sonic equivalent of being in the thick of a late- summer party, skin glowing and cocktail in had.
The giddy, buoyant joy captured by these latin-infused tracks truly feels like an act of healing. Lyrics hint at the deeper realities, before the shimmering instrumentals take control, refusing to let Cabello to wallow in her sorrow. ‘Bam Bam’s sharp reflection of “I said I’d love you for life but I just sold our house” then feeds into the charged ‘La Buena Vida’, opening with the revealing “I woke up happy by accident”. ‘La Buena Vida’s charged, flamenco flow fizzles, baring all and dealing with frustration in real time, slowly building to a crescendo of acceptance.
Yet this album doesn’t just stick to latin pop. Maria Becerra feature ‘Hastas Los Dientes’ thrives in that realm, yet there is a brilliant, funky slap bass playfully scattered throughout. ‘psychofreak’ is also totally magnificent, a thick, poppy, pulsing stream of consciousness. WILLOW’s gorgeous, rich, emotive vocals perfectly adding an ethereal, reflective layer to the track, truly setting it apart from every thing else on the release.
However, while there are some great tracks on ‘Familia’ there is also a cluster of ‘safe’ tracks that do hold it back. ‘Quiet’ and ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ sounds like they would fit perfectly on either of Cabello’s previous releases - they’re easy listening, and Cabello’s voice is gorgeous on track, but there’s nothing about them that sparkles. They truly feel shadowed by the other larger-than-life tracks on ‘Familia’. They feel less inspired, and, knowing how vibrant this release manages to feel in other places, it does leave you a thirsty for more of that genre-fusion.
Three albums in, Cabello has managed to show an exciting new side of herself on ‘Familia’. This feels like Cabello has come into her own, hinting at a sound much more intriguing than her previous releases. Though moments fall into realms of safety, churning out easy radio-hits, we’re hoping she continues on this venture into more diverse sounds - as those more exciting, genre-fusing tracks are pretty fabulous.
Words: Emily Swingle
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