REVIEW: Menudo - Refrescante (1986)
It had been a while since Menudo had been to Mexico when they released Refrescante. They were so busy touring around the world since the album, Evolucion was in 1984. In real music years, that is not a lot but in Menudo years, it feels like an eternity. They had two new members to introduce to Mexico. Refrescante has always felt, to me, like the Mexican album for the group, which is how my memories recall the album.
The first time I heard songs from the album was when the group performed on the popular variety show, Siempre En Domingo. Raymond got his Mexican sombrero and sang “Hoy Me Voy Para Mexico." Yeah, Sergio got one too, but it wasn’t as important as Raymond’s since he was singing a song about Mexico.
Up until this album, Menudo’s music felt very bubble gum pop. With the release for Refrescante in Mexico, this was all going to change. Menudo was changing too. I couldn’t tell if it was going to be for the better or, the worse. Musically, this album is far more superior to anything they had come out with, except for the song “Hold Me.” A complete album, this was it. Refrescante was mainstream and Menudo, who used to be in a league of their own would now be able to compete musically with Top 40 radio.
But you are in 1986, which means that their competition in the same youth/tween market was still growing up. Menudo seemed to get there first. Timbiriche, Mexico’s biggest competition was still very youthful in their sound; Luis Miguel was barely a teenager himself, so his music still was too juvenile. Tatiana was barely coming out with the album, Chicas De Hoy, which was very much dominating the coming of age girls. Menudo’s Refrescante album was the group’s step into the big leagues of Mexico.
The next question was if Mexico was ready to accept Menudo’s significant change. While remembering back to the magazines that were popular back then, Menudo was on the charts with “Salta La Valla,” “Besame,” “Hoy Me Voy Para Mexico," and “Amiga Mia." With four chart-topping songs, Refrescante did fairly well, but it wasn't an album that stands out in their discography.
During the mid-’80s, Menudo’s image seemed to change quite drastically as it felt like the group was trying to find themselves and their image. A few years earlier, it felt like Menudo didn’t care and they had no problem attracting the fans when they were all costumes. Could the individuality of the members be the downfall of what Menudo was in previous years?
Refrescante is truly a refreshing new era of Menudo that is quite enjoyable. The dance moves were harder than before. The music was in line with the era. The line-up of the group was probably one of my most favorites in the later years. Minus one or two songs that I could take or leave, this is a pretty decent album for the group.