Album Review: Hu Hu Hu

New album review coming right up, without further ado.

Album: Hu Hu Hu

Artist: Natalia LaFourcade

Released: May 2009

Latin music can be a minefield for the English-speaking listener. There are a mountain of stereotypes; the language is foreign; the styles potentially hard to navigate. That’s not to say it’s difficult for someone who doesn’t speak Spanish to love Latin music…but the language and culture barrier can sometimes loom large.

There are, however, artists and albums in the Latin music world with fresh, original approaches that transcend differences between country and tongue. The kind of music that’s universal, new, and exciting. Natalia LaFourcade is one of those artists, and her most recent studio effort, “Hu Hu Hu,” is one of those albums. Bursting with life, exploding with individuality, and full of quality and beauty, “Hu Hu Hu” is an incredibly enjoyable recording, for any listener.

Natalia explores an interesting array of sonic textures in the album, all while demonstrating a firm grasp of who she is as an artist. Armed with a subtly quirky production and unique yet warm arrangements, she doesn’t go wrong anywhere in the record’s 13 tracks. “Cursis melodias,” with a driving, cheerful swing, starts the record off right. It’s full of joy and happiness, but also features enough quirky chord progressions and clever instrumentation (the piano particularly helps set it apart; this is a theme that pops up the whole album) to keep things from getting anywhere near sugary. “No Viniste” is subtle, sneaky, and assured, and “Siempre Prisa” builds from a soft, casual beginning to a beautifully cacophonous latter third. “Tiempo al viento” pulls a switch-up…it starts off as a lilting acoustically-driven ballad, and ends up as a refreshing piece of electro-folk. “Let’s Get Out,” one of the three English songs on the album, is one of the most energetic and fun cuts on the record (and Natalia’s highly endearing accent only adds to its appeal). Natalia and Latin ingenue Julieta Venegas share the mic on the title track, and the result is an alluring, subtle trip-hop-influenced treat full of close, delicious harmonies.  “Ella Es Bonita,” the track that follows it, is a bouncy, confident, poppy joy ride.

Rather than coast during the latter half of the album, Natalia ramps things up even more creatively and musically. The gorgeous piano-driven “Nino Hojas” is both breathtakingly simple and quietly complex, building to a climactic chant-fueled chorus that practically explodes with life and cheer. “Running Too Fast,” the second English track on “Hu Hu Hu,” is a haunting yet endearing ballad featuring only Natalia’s beautifully fragile vocals, and an utterly lovely acoustic guitar line. “Azul” is sonically adventurous yet also focused and completely enjoyable, and “Hora de compartir” stands out as one of the best tracks on the whole album, thanks to some truly stunning unexpected chord changes and a cool vibe that keep it both grounded and exciting. The quiet piano and guitar lines that drive “Un Lugar Para Renacer” forward also make it a standout track, along with the beautiful choir of voices that help make the chorus come truly alive. Natalia closes the album off with another duet, this time with Mexican singer Juan Son on the joyous “Look Outside.”

Joy, happiness, love…these are three qualities that define “Hu Hu Hu,” but they do anything but hold it down. They bring it alive and make it sing…cliches, to be sure, but phrases that describe the album very accurately. “Hu Hu Hu” is a delightful listen, and one that should be put on repeat. It’s devastatingly intriguing, incredibly enjoyable, and uniquely uplifting. Whether the listener speaks English, Spanish, or another language entirely…Natalia LaFourcade is certainly an artist to cherish.

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