nathy peluso grasa

Album Review: Nathy Peluso – Grasa

[Sony Music Latin/5020 Records; 2024]

Perhaps you weren’t there on Twitter in 2020 when Nathy Peluso unleashed “Sana Sana” off her debut studio album Calambre. Stan Twitter quickly memed the energy she brought to the table; this in reverse worked in her favor as the world began to recognize her unadulterated star power. The Argentine singer travels through many genres and continues to do so on her sophomore album Grasa. In a direct translation, the word means ‘grease’ or ‘fat’ – but with the high energy dancebeats on this project, all of that will be burnt off.

Peluso’s love of food is well documented, right back to “Gimme Some Pizza” from 2018’s La Sandunguera EP. That’s true here on her new album, but “TODO ROTO” is a full 180 from her usual work, coming in the form of a rap club banger – but one that suits her well alongside guests CA7RIEL & Paco Amoroso. “El corashe arriba de la mesa / A hora sé cómo cortar la Milanesa” (“Courage on the table / now I know how to cut the Milanese”), Peluso playfully banters, mentioning an unbeatable favorite dish of hers.

It’s emblematic of Grasa, where Peluso decides to go ‘hard’ with experimenting and overall energy on songs like “MENINA” and “MANHATTAN”. Unlike previous single works like “Copa Glase”, a snappy old school jazz standard, lead single “APRENDER A AMAR” transforms Peluso into a passionately raged out matriarch, which is much more present now than on her debut album. With Kanye-inspired trumpets, the sonically turbulent bad-bitch anthem presents as a loving slap in the face from your best friend after a breakup. “Tienes que aprender a amarte (Perra),” (“you have to learn to love yourself (bitch)”) she harmonizes – and yes, she mentions Milanesa on this track too.

Peluso is not one to leave out a feminist empowerment track from her discography. Her salsa single from 2021, “MAFIOSA”, was a danceable concept that is seemingly a blueprint for Grasa‘s opening track “CORLEONE”. Named after the fictional Godfather family, the violin and slow-tempo play up the dramatics of this semi-fictional opener about Peluso’s life, drawing upon the mob boss ambition she has expressed throughout her career. “Si mañana yo me muero / no me quedo tranquila” (“If I die tomorrow / I won’t stay calm”).

Unexpected collabs come in good fortune as Peluso teams up with Blood Orange on “EL DIA QUE PERDI MI JUVENTUD”, where the emotional finger-picked guitar takes you through a nostalgic picture of a younger time in her life before devastation struck. The 16-track project has very few somber moments like these, and are partially cut flat due to their relentless autotune interruptions – something that hampers the Blood Orange collaboration.

On the sweet sparkling closer “MAMÁ”, Peluso’s added synthetic background harmonies on the chorus echo a sentimentality of artistry that whisks away this loving ballad to her mother, where she compares her teeth to beautiful stolen pearls. There are a few artificial choices throughout the album that seem to deteriorate the intensely great feats Peluso can accomplish.

An exception comes clear on “ESCALERAS DE METAL” where autotune becomes her friend, adding depth to the contextual heartache the track mentions. The almost tear-breaking operatic vocal clears any doubt of Peluso’s talent.

“LA MENTIRA” is a throwaway track that makes an attempt at the new wave of hyper-regaetton tormenting the Latin community; unfortunately the track carries some of Peluso’s best lines as well. “Los ojito’ como Bowie (Uh), uno negro y otro azul (Negro) / Cuando me pongo triste me cambian de color a full” (“The little eyes like Bowie , one black and one blue (Black) / When I get sad they change my color to full”).

The album is hits a late peak with “LA PRESA”, an old-style salsa tune that Peluso knows how to get right every time. The formulaic track connects back to the conceptual opening and with added male background asking for her arrest. “REMEDIO” is a gentle slightly alternative pop track that keeps Peluso standard in her place within the music world. Through and through she is a pop-adjacent songmaker, but overall a girl who wants to have fun and experiment with the sounds surrounding her.

It’s hard to deliver a polished piece after your last release caught much critical acclaim and attention. Peluso keeps at the same speed as her last project and perhaps skyrockets even further, but slightly struggles on the tough tightroping of making a perfect tracklist. While some tracks do flow due to perfectly engineered transitions, some create emotional dissonance with chaotic ambience. But part of that is also Nathy Peluso, part-diva, part-mob boss, part-trap rapper, and all-around a surprising entertainer.