Mana, "Cama Incendiada" (Warner Music)
It's a given that pop-rock band Mana will sell out shows wherever they go, whether it's the Staples Center (where they set the mark with 11 sell-out concerts) or in their native Mexico. But what hasn't been easy for the band is keeping the energized sound that propelled them to fame with their 1992 breakout album "Donde Jugaran los Ninos?"
But after several uneven albums that verged too far into sweetness, Mana has found its edge again with their ninth studio album "Cama Incendiada," or "The Burning Bed."
On the opener "Adicto a Tu Amor," Fher Olvera's rough-hewn voice is colored with a raw sexiness that had been missing of late. On the title cut "La Cama Incendiada," Olvera displays a range of character, from whispers to playfulness and power, mixing the Spanish lyrics with bits of English, "I saw you with otro guey, no and that's not right." The music echoes the flirtation, moving from a sly, walking rhythm into a powerful crescendo of rock guitar and horns that drop hard into the hook.
Grammy-winning producer George Noriega (Shakira, Ricky Martin, Draco Rosa) has with this new collaboration helped Mana revisit and freshen up sounds from early albums, blending them into modern rhythms and incorporating different sounds, including the pan flutes and ska-guitar licks on "La Prision" which build up into something akin to the recharge of an old-school flash bulb.
There is so much to enjoy here that the first release, a melancholy duet with Colombia's iconic Shakira, "Mi Verdad," is almost overshadowed, even as charming as it is. And Mana's cross-border fans may be most charged by the closing "Somos Mas Americanos," with Olvera sounding more down-to-earth than ever on the immigrant anthem made famous by Los Tigres del Norte.
While the album has its shortcomings, such as the over-sweetened ballad "Ironia" or the rocking "Electrizado" which fails to energize, Mana fans who've been hungering for the strength of the band's early works will rejoice. Grab those tickets for "Cama Incendiada" tour while you can. They'll go fast.
Follow Michelle Morgante at twitter.com/mmorgante