[29 June 2006]
Hey, remember that song “Another Chance”? It was on an ad for a car—Mazda, I think—a few years ago. It was by Roger Sanchez, off his debut artist album First Contact. Five years later, he’s returned with Come With Me—but the car commercial soundtrack music, though more Latin-influenced this time, hasn’t improved in quality.
Come with Me‘s going to be described as Balearic, which seems to be a synonym for shiny-surface house, but despite all the sex noises I’m not persuaded there’s true passion here. Come with Me flows out with the pretense of passion, the material trappings of passion, little else. Sanchez’ world is inhabited by oversexed club freaks, with perfect bodies and booties, sweat dripping off themselves as they rub up against each other sensually. It’s a little bit titillating and a little bit repulsive, hearing the woman in “Hot 4 U” say to male character over the phone, “I want to undress you … I’ll make your fantasies come true”. That’s not all there is to Hispanic passion, which at its core celebrates life—it’s just all Sanchez can muster.
“Turn On the Music” is the first (and obvious) single, a large-gesture commercial house anthem, with a soul-infused melody that would be revelatory if the sound weren’t so worn thin. But there’s one neat effect, though, when about halfway through the smooth male vocal sinks right into the synth line. That’s about as innovative as it gets.
“Not Enough” and “Lost”, two downtempo numbers that come early on, are confusing: is Sanchez a house DJ or a pop wannabe? With the explosion of canned beats in pop music, the latter song really could have been released by Kelly Clarkson; “Not Enough” Hilary Duff even. That’s a scary thought, and really indicative of what this album’s like: trite pop ideas wrapped up in mediocre house beats. Elsewhere, diva wails like “Take a Chance” or “I’m Yours” are fun at first, but likewise hold nothing that buoys up a second listen. The opening shout of “Take a Chance” is supposed to be unbridled passion, I suppose; it comes off sounding more rabbinic.
Things get a little more interesting with “Again”, with its discursive spoken word vocal reminiscent of Fatt Dexx’s “Sly P.I.”, or a more serious, less piss-take version of Butterfingers’ cheeky “I Love Work”. Seriously, though, it’s most like Roland Clark’s contribution to Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars. Every time the verse ends, a new layer of percussion or melody layers on; the last is this cool metal-percussion hip-hop groove, almost redeeming the banality of the observations.
But from there, the rest of the album is really same-y. “Free (Headwinds)” has some of the over-enunciated choral work of a Broadway musical -– but even this at seven minutes gets a little tedious. And closer “Soledad” may find its way onto some of those chillout compilation albums, or maybe could have made it there if those comps still sold with any consistency.
So, then, should we take a chance with Roger Sanchez? The truth is, for someone who’s been producing dance music for so long, we shouldn’t have to.