QUICKSPINS: Kali Uchis — ORQUÍDEAS

Cover art courtesy of Apple Music.

The Colombian-American singer pulls from an array of dance styles on her second Spanish-language album, to stunning results.

Before releasing her latest album Red Moon in Venus in March 2023, Kali Uchis already announced that her next album—a Spanish effort—was on the way. ORQUÍDEAS arrived on Jan. 12, less than a year later. It is the Colombian-American singer’s fourth studio album and second Spanish-language effort following Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios) in 2020.

ORQUÍDEAS is her most versatile album to date, with a sonic palette that pulls from a large range of dance music styles. From upbeat to mellow and ambient, the album contains numerous moods and textures. The opening track “¿Cómo Así?” features an upbeat rhythm driven by punchy kicks, clearly influenced by house music. This is equally the case for “Me Pongo Loca” and “Diosa,” both of which are just as bouncy, but more lowkey and slow-tempo. “Igual Que Un Angél” is a glimmering piece of dance-pop characterized by all sorts of twinkling synthesizers and a heavy bassline. The song is a duet with Mexican artist Peso Pluma, whose lower vocal range perfectly contrasts Uchis’ higher pitch. His performance is similarly smooth and pleasant, making for a perfectly complementary addition. Elsewhere on the record, she steps into familiar territory with bedroom pop and R&B tracks like “Pensamientos Intrusivos” and “Young Rich & In Love,” which recall the sounds of her usual work.

Latin dance styles are also crucial to the album’s soundscape. “Te Mata” is tried and true to the Cuban bolero subgenre with its traditional instrumentation and lyrics about love. Uchis is falsely labeled as the villain in a toxic relationship, but embraces it, showing that she is the bigger person. This track is one of many on ORQUÍDEAS that highlights her fantastic vocal ability and range. Here, her opera-like voice goes from a lower register to a higher one with full power. She soars to even greater vocal heights on other tracks, notably pulling out whistle notes on the track with Pluma. Her vocal layering and harmonization are stunning, especially on “Heladito” where her background harmonies are even more entrancing than the song’s heavenly chimes and strong groove. Her embrace of bilingualism across the record is noteworthy as well. Similarly to “Hasta Cuando” and “Como te Quiero Yo” from Red Moon in Venus, the singer effortlessly switches between English and Spanish, from single lines to entire verses at a time.

The last leg of the record is essentially dominated by reggaeton, bringing a burst of energy to the record with back-to-back upbeat songs. “Muñekita” is a fun reggaeton banger that continuously speeds up and slows down, offering up dynamic tempo changes. She is joined by Dominican rapper El Alfa and American rapper JT (of City Girls), both of whom deliver verses full of personality. “Labios Mordidos” reads as a song of sirens where she teams up with Colombian singer Karol G. The two offer a sultry track, flirtatiously exchanging and complimenting each other over a dynamic piece of reggaeton production with different rhythms and melodic layers. Uchis brings in Puerto Rican hitmaker Rauw Alejandro for “No Hay Ley Parte 2” to put a fresh spin on a single she first released in 2022. The revamped version swaps out the original club beat for reggaeton. The two-part “Dame Beso // Muévete” closes the album on an irresistibly infectious note, with Uchis offering a merengue track. It comes ready with a tempo switch in the second half which brings the song to a speed that is guaranteed to get any and everyone moving on the dancefloor. That would explain why it is already receiving heavy praise from fans on TikTok.

ORQUÍDEAS is undoubtedly one of Uchis’ best offerings to date. The record is danceable, groovy, atmospheric and ambient, but also researched and versatile. She draws from numerous types of Latin music and dance genres, combining them into a record that constantly takes on new directions and executes them beautifully.

8.5/10

Trial Track: Dame Beso // Muévete

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