Angelica Garcia – Cha Cha Palace

3 out of 5

Label: SpaceBomb

Produced by: Eddie Prendergast

The energy is there. The delivery is there. The creativity is there. Even the hooks are there. But the overall concept of Angelica Garcia’s sophomore album, speaking to the artist’s mixed roots as a Salva-Mex-American, feels a bit beyond the final product, resulting in some ideas that are sung and popped to us by an incredibly skilled talent, with all of those pluses perhaps distracting from some shallowness.

This is, of course, accepting that I have zero grounds from which to reflect on a Salva-Mex-American identity, but that’s kind of the point, I suppose: reading the lyrics, trying to “feel” the message alongside the music, and I can’t quite get there. I get some images, and the general thrust of feeling such a strong sense of self while also being told one perhaps shouldn’t feel that way, or doesn’t belong in the country in which they were born, but that’s told to us via some scattered thoughts from Garcia, married to incredibly catchy choruses and wonderful production. The cultural mish-mash also comes forward in the music itself, which blends some vaguely Latino / Spanish elements with the glitzy pop, making for an accessible style that’s given an almost punky verve by Garcia’s sharp sense of composition.

However, this is curtailed on the album’s backhalf, when such radio ready jamz are swapped out for slower tunes. Interestingly, though, on several of these, Garcia’s lyrics become stronger – perhaps when the music veers closer to singer/songwriter territory, it allowed her more focus on that element, but the words also seem a bit more emotionally- than cultural-clash-driven in these cases. Whether this divide was a purposeful decision or not, it rather splits the album pacing wise; it kinda “dies” past the midway point, and you have to mentally switch over to a more laidback vibe in order to get back in tune. These are, as suggested, strong songs, but it takes a few spins to not be overly distracted by all the up front glitz.

Overall, Cha Cha Palance is impressive, but it’s not necessarily as impactful as I think its looming themes could allow, with its poppiest moments delivered with the sassitude and musical complexity of St. Vincent – and Garcia is an amazing vocalist – but it’s rather fleeting, with its more affecting tracks given less spotlight due to sequencing.