Personnel: Julio Ramirez (acoustic guitar); Bibi Marín (electric guitar); John Rekevics (baritone saxophone); Mike Rodriguez (piano); Rob Whitlock (organ); Andrés Peláez (keyboards); Kiko Cibrián (programming).
Des/Amor is Mexican pop trio Reik's first album of new studio material in five years. While they haven't exactly been inactive, touring (the concert set Vivo Desde el Auditorio Nacional was issued in 2013), writing, and family matters took up their time. Des/Amor may be drenched in their unmistakable blend of vocals and infectious melodies, but it does mark a risk-taking departure from previous outings -- especially the electronic synth pop of 2011's Peligro. Here the trio experiment with more urban sounds, including modern cumbia, reggaeton, and even lushly illustrated folk. Traditionally, this trio has always been a singles band, but Des/Amor flows consistently together as an album. While the pre-release track "Ya Me Enteré" did well at radio and on the charts, the album closer is an urban remix version featuring Nicky Jam that is far stronger, with a bouncy, soulful reggaeton backbeat and a popping guitar vamp to match the band's singing with Jam's rapping. Other highlights include the jaunty, punchy folk pop of "Qué Gano Olvidándote," and the bumping old-school rock & roll of the bilingual "Spanglish," with fat saxophones and doo wop choruses woven through handclaps and modern big-beat production. The other bilingual jam is "We Have Only Tonight," a hooky rocker with anthemic choruses and ringing guitars. "Vamanos Lejos" seamlessly weaves cumbia and reggae in a warm, silvery, midtempo ballad with a snappy chorus. For old-school fans, there is a handful of fine slow jams too, including the crystalline, piano-dominant "Náufragos" and the passionate "Al Fin Estás Aquí" with Ensenada duo Felix y Gil guesting on vocals. Des/Amor is the album where Reik reveal themselves as grown-up musicians and songwriters and moving past the boy band pinup image they so skillfully cultivated early on. ~ Thom Jurek