J Balvin: Colores | Review

J Balvin: Colores | ReviewJ Balvin: Colores | Review

J Balvin didn’t have to drop a concept album. He also didn’t have to include with it a series of “guided meditations,” or shoot a video for every song on the record. Already well into his global ascent, the Colombian juggernaut could have simply bundled Colores’ radio-ready hits and rode out the streaming wave. Yet Balvin has long outpaced that tactic, eschewing his earliest goals of mainstream reggaetón success for something greater. He recently told Vogue UK he wants to be a “living legend,” punto. So now, Balvin is in the business of crafting a lasting aesthetic—namaste hands and all. Colores’ concept is steeped in this earnest (if slightly indulgent) pursuit. Each of its 10 tracks corresponds to a different color, in a sort of sonic mood ring. “Rojo” deploys atmospheric synths to evoke romance; on “Gris,” a cumbia-derived guitar recalls the sound of Balvin’s Medellín atop a chunky beat. We even get an answer to fellow urbano upstart Bad Bunny’s “Safaera” with another nasty puro perreo cut (“Negro”). But through all of this, Balvin’s underlying mission remains clear. He telegraphed his commitment to his idea when he dropped the album’s final track, “Blanco,” as the lead single in late 2019, choosing it over surefire beach hit “Azul” or the rainbow of “Arcoíris” (featuring Oasis’ Afrobeats all-star, Mr. Eazi). In doing so, Balvin effectively slapped down a layer of primer, delivering an absence of color in preparation for the rest. Directed by frequent collaborator Colin Tilley (who oversaw ...
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