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Miranda! (Argentina): Safari *

Album Notes

Miranda!'s career expectations have been a bit of a roller coaster ride, first shooting from indie obscurity to being this close to become Latin superstars with El Disco de Tu Corazón (2007) and the next moment battling against being perceived as a novelty act with an unavoidable expiration date, only to somehow survive the trappings of overexposure and manage to stabilize their trajectory. In this sense, Safari builds on the preceding Magistral (2011), with Miranda! seemingly happy to have settled for being a clever Latin dance-pop band very adept at making solid, if unexceptional, records. The making of this album could have conceivably been upset by a couple of factors, chiefly the departure of guitarist Lolo Fuentes, the first founding member to do so, or the sudden rise in singer Ale Sergi's media profile due to his participation on the jury of the talent show The Voice Argentina and a tabloid romance with a TV starlet, but in Safari, one would be hard-pressed to find any significant changes in Miranda!'s identity. Indeed, the fact that Fuentes' absence hardly registers may point to the fact that the band had already standardized its formula up to a point where his input was increasingly negligible. Miranda! seem to have lost their knack for quirky, catchy riffs, and focus squarely on the vocal interplay of Sergi and Julieta Gattas, the former playing the neurotic, ironic male to the latter sassy, optimistic female, now in their thirties rather than their twenties. Not even the ever polished production courtesy of multiple Grammy winner Cachorro López, who has been at the helm of all the band's records since El Disco de Tu Corazón, seems to make much of a difference anymore, as the acoustic versions included in the deluxe version of the album reveal. Startlingly for such a bona fide synth pop act, their songs sound just about the same if backed by piles of keyboards and drum machine tracks or by a single acoustic guitar: it's really all about Ale and Julieta singing over some nondescript background. If that seems disparaging, it should also be noted that these versions also reveal the duo's true inner strength, their well-tested ability to write damn good pop tunes and sing them out of the ballpark. In this respect, Safari unexpectedly becomes the best Miranda! album since El Disco de Tu Corazón, because on top of another collection of decent Miranda! songs it adds a couple of great singles such as "Fantasmas" and particularly "Extraño," which is as big and catchy a hit as only they know how to craft. A third collaboration with kindred spirits Fangoria on "Miro la Vida Pasar," the reggae-inflicted "Sólo Lo Sabe la Luna," and the Gattas showpiece "Para Olvidar Tu Amor" round off a satisfying effort that comes very close to being the best album this thirty-something version of Miranda! could possibly make in 2014. ~ Mariano Prunes



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