As catchy as it is predictable, Cometas por el Cielo is one of those records that are too perfect for their own good. The band plies its usual wares on its sixth album, offering high-quality pop/rock that's really too sweet and airy to be called power pop, though that's where its roots are (as shown by the fuzz-laden opener, the one exception). Angelic singing by Leire Martínez forms a gentle contrast with the guitar-driven music, but the distortion is barely audible, and bouncy beats (sometimes electronic) and romantic melodies smooth out all the rough edges. They also go heavy on ballads, complete with pianos and strings, which really put Martínez's voice in the spotlight, though all traces of rock are absent from those numbers. On the whole, La Oreja de Van Gogh are tapping the same well of inspiration as all skilled guitar popsters, down to Avril Lavigne -- it's basically '80s pop, melody-driven and shamelessly tugging at the heartstrings just the way Bangles and Bryan Adams used to do in their respective heydays. In Oreja's case, however, the result is more similar to immaculate Japanese pop than Lavigne, with technical flawlessness prized over identity. It's just too mainstream, in the sense that these songs could have been recorded by anyone from Eros Ramazzotti (well, if he were a girl, or sang duets with one) to Kanagawa prefecture's Ikimono Gakari, and no one would have batted an eyelid. Cometas por el Cielo is a wonderful pick for those looking for sleek pop/rock done the right way, but it's telling that its biggest claim to individuality is the language of the lyrics. ~ Alexey Eremenko, Rovi

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