New technologies have nearly always seen drastic changes to the music industry, with one of the more recent changes being the Internet and its growing availability of so many different platforms on which anyone can showcase their musical ability, giving record labels and talent scouts an entirely new battleground for finding fresh material. Not only are there websites like SoundCloud and Bandcamp that are specifically related to musical content, but the video-sharing site juggernaut that is YouTube still remains a pertinent arena for budding musicians. One of the latest popstars to have been discovered on the site is Mexican singer and songwriter Sofía Reyes. Whilst low-quality recordings of young, ambitious girls covering pop songs at the piano are nothing uncommon on YouTube, it nonetheless proves to be a successful means of being discovered for a select few, with Reyes being one of said few. Fellow Latin popstar Geoffrey Royce Rojas, known by his musical pseudonym of Prince Royce, was the one to have his interest piqued by the young singer and upon discovering her, was quick to sign Reyes to his newly-established label D’León Records, which was created with the help of the Latin-focussed branch of Warner Music. Reyes was the first artist signed to the new label and the release of her first studio single, Now Forever, quickly followed in 2013. A handful of singles have been released between the singer’s first and her debut album Louder!, to the point that this record almost feels like somewhat of a best hits album. Of course, it’s often the case nowadays that up-and-coming popstars will release singles before the prospect of a debut album has made itself completely clear, thus resulting in tracks dropping years before the album on which they appear is released. This certainly seems to have been the case with Reyes, with the first track from Louder! having been released in the summer of 2014. Having been relatively unaware of Reyes until the discovery of her new album, I went into this thing expecting some rather standard and familiar Latin pop based on the generic album cover and title. However, credit where credit is due, this album has a respectable amount of appeal beyond what I had initially expected. Whilst still being a rather run-of-the-mill Latin pop debut, it has enough good moments that a deeper analysis is warranted.
If one thing was made clear from the singles leading up to this album’s release, it was that Reyes characterised a rather fun and likeable party girl persona that works to her strengths. These songs are incredibly upbeat and saccharine, featuring rather typical teenage girl lyrics that are nevertheless often performed with enough charisma to leave an impression on the listener. The album opens with the oldest single from this album, Muévelo, a straight-up party anthem that showcases Reyes’ clean voice that carries the radio-friendly melody well, and the surprisingly colourful production that makes its way on to some of the cuts on this album. The production on this track manages to incorporate organic instrumentation like acoustic guitars without them sounding too overproduced whilst still retaining a clear pop element to them. The same use of acoustic guitars is used on other tracks, but perhaps most successfully on the album’s title track. This cut also features some horns, however the production does show up as a bit too saturated in the way in which they are incorporated. Reyes’ vocal performances also take a bit of a back seat on this track, with the refrain being purely instrumental until its last run. This doesn’t go over too badly, but it does feel rather empty and the added vocal melody provided by Reyes on the final refrain shows that a proper vocal chorus from the singer would have filled the empty space perfectly well.
The final track on the album, How to Love, is actually a single from EDM trio Cash Cash that features Reyes on vocals and appeared on their 2016 album Blood, Sweat & 3 Years. The fact that this track shows up on Reyes’ debut perhaps signifies a lack of material available to pad out this thing’s runtime, but despite being primarily a Cash Cash track, it feels perfectly at home in the tracklisting Louder! and actually features one of Reyes’ most impressive vocal performances on the album. Plus, the instrumental provided by Cash Cash is one of the better danceable tunes on the record, making good use of various instruments such as an electronic piano and a subtle clean electric guitar before the hook. It certainly fulfils its role as an EDM track and provides a relatively catchy tune in the process with some satisfying pop electronics.
A handful of tracks on Louder! see mixed results between the verse and the hook. De Aquí a la Luna, for instance, features an upbeat, syncopated ukulele paired with some trite whistling, all of which sounds like it could have landed on a Train album. The verse feels rather barren with Reyes’ vocal line failing to fill in the gaps at all. However, the track does pick up a bit during the chorus, which features a particularly nice vocal line from Reyes at the backend with some sweet harmonies. Solo Yo, featuring Prince Royce, is a pretty standard ballad that plays on the use of having male and female vocals. The verse is all too familiar and lacks much to really grab the listener’s attention, although the pair’s performance during the chorus is rather good, with a particularly impressive performance from Reyes.
All things considered, Louder! can be seen in some regards as just another Latin pop record from a newly-discovered internet singer, but there are certain features that distinguish it slightly from its competition. My positive thoughts on this project are fairly limited, but given that I wasn’t expecting this album to interest me in any way, shape or form, the fact that the odd pleasing moment showed up was a nice surprise. Nothing about this record, however, demonstrates that it will have any staying power, as is the case with a lot of pop records released nowadays, but for what it’s worth, this is a decent pop album that has a notable charm to it, thanks to Reyes’ performances and some occasional flourishes from the production. It seems to fulfil its purpose as one would expect, but beyond that, there’s enough substance and pop appeal here to make this record satisfy a lot of Latin pop fans.
The Vinyl Verdict: 6/10