It feels fitting that Camila Cabello has named her third album after the Spanish word for “family”. As she signposted with two ingratiating singles – the Latin pop banger ‘Don’t Go Yet’ and ‘Bam Bam’, a salsa-flecked duet with Ed Sheeran – the Havana-born, Miami-raised singer has really leaned into her Cuban-Mexican roots. Two songs on the album including ‘Celia’, which features her eight-year-old cousin Caro on backing vocals, are sung entirely in Spanish. ‘No Doubt’ and ‘La Buena Vida’, meanwhile, shadow their anguished English lyrics with balmy Latin rhythms.
Honestly: anguished isn’t too strong a word here. Cabello once told NME that she’s “the most emo person ever”, and she backs this up with new songs exploring anxiety (‘Quiet’), the loneliness of a long-distance relationship (‘La Buena Vida’) and seething sexual jealousy (‘No Doubt’). “You’re up against the wall / She’s unbuttoning your jeans,” Cabello sings on the latter, picturing a partner with someone else. It’s a disarmingly candid moment on an album filled with them, but there’s fun on ‘Familia’, too. ‘Don’t Go Yet’ boasts an anthemic chanted chorus that recalls the Queen of Latin Pop, Gloria Estefan. The title of ‘Hasta los dientes’ loosely translates as ‘Armed to the Teeth”, but its music offers a slinky spin on Dua Lipa‘s nu-disco sound.
If you want to cherry-pick ‘Familia’ for clues about what may have happened between Cabello and Shawn Mendes, from whom she split in November, go ahead and eat. But actually, her lyrics would be just as interesting if they were inspired by some random dude from the petrol station. ‘Psychofreak’, a chart-bound collaboration with Willow, proves it’s still possible to write a smart and original song about mental health in 2022. As an airy vocal hook reminiscent of Suzanne Vega’s ‘Tom’s Diner’ seems to highlight Cabello’s feelings of disassociation, she satirises her own reliance on recovery clichés: “Sometimes I don’t trust the way I feel / On my Instagram talking about ‘I’m healed’.”
Cabello even attempts a socially conscious character study about a marginalised young woman from the country where she was born. “Nobody breaks the ceiling / Nobody where she’s from,” she sings on ‘Lola’, a folky ballad that features Cuban singer Yotuel. The lyrics may lack the pin-sharp specificity of other songs here, but it’s tender and affecting nonetheless. By digging deeper into her heritage and her own psyche, Cabello has created her richest and most compelling album yet.
Release date: April 8th
Record label: Epic