5 great Latin albums of 2022 (not by Bad Bunny or Rosalía)

Bruses, Rauw Alejandro and Adrian Quesada.

(Illustration by Mel Cerri / For The Times. Photos by Medios y Media / Getty Images; Eric Rojas / For The Times; Eduardo Verdugo / AP)

After five years of Latin music’s meteoric ascent in the American mainstream, it’s hardly surprising — at least to anyone paying attention — that Bad Bunny and Rosalía’s exhilarating new albums have eclipsed even the most popular Anglophone artists of today. While the Puerto Rican heartthrob’s summer smash, “Un Verano Sin Ti,” outpaced Drake and Taylor Swift for longest-running No. 1 record of 2022, the Spanish flamenco star’s “Motomami” outranked Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” on Metacritic and won her the coveted Latin Grammy for album of the year.

As two young, adventurous artists at the top of their game, Bad Bunny and Rosalía have earned their place atop critics’ polls and the charts. But lest the world forgets that plenty of other artists exist in Spanish-language music today, here are five standout albums from 2022 that deserve your attention.

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Rauw Alejandro, “Saturno”

A year after releasing his No. 1 dance-pop LP, “Vice Versa,” Alejandro chronicled the last vestiges of his 20s on his third studio album, the cyber-reggaetón experiment “Saturno.” Under the tutelage of his trusted producers, EDM enthusiasts Kenobi and Mr. Naisgai, he crafted his chimeric masterpiece by resuscitating long-dormant sounds that once heralded the future of music — ‘80s and ‘90s staples like Miami bass and freestyle — and propelled reggaetón into sonic territories less traveled. He also enlisted help from his generation’s most eminent producer, Tainy, as well as DJ Playero, Arcángel and Baby Rasta, bona fide OGs from Puerto Rico’s reggaetón underground.

Key track: “Corazón Despeinado” (Disheveled Heart) is madcap electropunk for the Latinemos at heart.

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Eslabón Armado, “Nostalgia”

With the Danny Lux-written hit “Jugaste y Sufrí” — You Played and I Suffered — regional Mexican quartet Eslabón Armado helped popularize the “sad sierreño” sound, coloring their homegrown folk balladry in a distinctly adolescent shade of melancholy. Stacked with moody guitar riffs, the group’s latest album, “Nostalgia,” became the first regional Mexican album ever to make the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart. Collaborations with Rancho Humilde all-stars Fuerza Regida and Junior H lend the record an upbeat, city boy edge, but alongside Lux and Ivan Cornejo, their comrades in sadness, Eslabón Armado dive deeply into the blues.

Key track: “Las Historias Se Acaban” (The Stories Are Over) is uplifted by the beautiful vocal interplays between frontman Pedro Tovar and special guest Estevie.

Bruses, “Monstruos”

Instantly recognized by her ghostly, powdered visage, the Tijuana alt-pop renegade Bruses wears her weirdness like a merit badge. Born Amalia Ramírez Hernández, the Latin Grammy-nominated 24-year-old produced for Mexican pop acts like Esteman, Drims and CD9 before she grew her own cult following online, where her independently released ballad “Dueles Tan Bien,” or You Hurt So Good, took flight on TikTok. On her punk-flavored debut LP, “Monstruos,” Bruses sings candidly of oft invisible monsters — like anxiety and suicidal ideation — using her arrestingly saccharine voice as a vessel for others to heal.

Key track: If you could extract the spiritual essence of Billie Eilish, 2008 Britney Spears and telenovela band RBD — and then rattle them together in a cocktail shaker — Bruses’ dance-rock number “I Like 2 Be” would be the resulting concoction.

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Mabe Fratti, “Se Ve Desde Aquí”

With her intrepid use of cello, plus an arsenal of vintage Korg synthesizers, Guatemalan singer-songwriter Mabe Fratti has devised aural playscapes for adventurous listeners to ramble in. Conceived between her artist residency in Rotterdam, Holland, and her adopted home of Mexico City, her newest album, “Se Ve Desde Aquí” (Can See From Here), is an exploration of liminality in song, genre and body; as her backing ensemble spirals into jazzy paroxysms, or recedes quietly into the ether, Fratti’s sinewy vocals roll across the rugged terrain like tumbleweeds.

Key track: Echoes of Kate Bush bubble up amid the synthy undercurrent of “Cada Músculo,” but Fratti’s stark lyricism steals the show: “Every muscle has a voice,” she repeats in Spanish.

Adrian Quesada, “Boleros Psicodélicos”

Renowned for his work in Black Pumas and Grupo Fantasma, the Grammy-winning guitarist Adrian Quesada plays bandleader on his latest solo outing, “Boleros Psicodélicos.” A tropical mystery-thriller of a record, the crispy, 1960s psych-rock feel of “Boleros” sets the scene for Latin indie’s best and brightest vocalists to truly sparkle. Quesada first casts the spotlight on Puerto Rican songstress iLe, who seethes righteously in “Mentiras con Cariño,” or Lies With Love. Other noteworthy performances include those of Gabriel Garzón-Montano, who leads with a sultry purr on “El Paraguas,” and Girl Ultra, who suffuses “El Payaso” with her vampy mystique.

Key track: Channeling the fiery essence of Cuban soul queen La Lupe, Guatemalan singer-songwriter Gaby Moreno brings the record’s simmer to a boil in “Puedes Decir de Mi.”

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