After a sojourn with his alter-ego Tony Gallardo II, El Rey de Reyes returns as María y José with "Ultra," a track that merges the harshness of the King of Kings (a drunken stagger of an intro) with the endearing naivety of tracks like "Granada" or Los Espiritus's "Pacífico-Atlántico." As a counterpoint to "Club Negro," "Ultra" suavely cruises by in slow motion. Its protagonist is wide-eyed and brimming with emotion, he duets with a distorted self. But we're still in the club, the strobe still strobes (albeit slowly). Featuring the infamous hook of Kendrick Lamar's (by way of The Chakachas) "Backseat Freestyle," this is somewhat of an unexpected rap ballad from someone who doesn't stop surprising us.
The distorted vocal sounds like some cute robot toy (a similar one appears on Tony's "Tormento") and on first listen distracts from the story of the lyrics. But the genius behind this subterfuge is that the less you pay attention to the track (as with most of the catalogue), the more the track reveals itself: it's that dulce moment when you let go of worry, you find acceptance, you get zen on the dance floor. The dredge reality might lurk at the edges, but this is a moment of clarity. You weren't even listening closely, but the intimate piano melody is now stuck in your head. "Ultra" is not smash hit single material, however. It's too straightforward, too ponderous for what we've come to expect from María y José. But it's still slick in its design—a polished chrome bumper, just one small part of the whole vehicle. Soon we'll know for sure if the sophomore release also has wheels. (And we're certain it has.)
Tuesday, March 5, 2013 | Posted by Sam Rodgers at 11:01 AM