Helado Negro: This Is How You Smile (RVNG) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

Helado Negro

This Is How You Smile

RVNG

Mar 04, 2019 Issue #65 - Mitski and boygenius Bookmark and Share


The title for Helado Negro's spectral and triumphant seventh studio albumThis Is How You Smilederives from a Jamaica Kincaid story titled "Girl" that is narrated from the perspective of a mother giving her daughter advice on how to survive in the world. The advice is at once chiding and conciliatory, composed of the wisdom of her years and filtered into words that are intended to be practical tools. Though Helado Negro (aka Roberto Carlos Lange) might not have diagrammed a 12-step program for smiling, the resulting model is informed by a spirit of persistence that one cannot help but be influenced by.

Throughout the album's 12 songs there is a constantly varying sense of space, as though your attention was changing in scope each time you flipped to another photo in an old family album. The rapt jaunt of "Imagining What to Do" starts with an attenuated synth loop before cutting to a skeletal, finger-picked acoustic guitar that eventually ends with steel drums and strings. Glimmering pulses flicker underneath weighty and hauntological soundscapes as Lange sings with a cautious and wistful sense of optimism, as though recommending an indomitable sense of joy as a weapon against the tyrannies of the present. The instrumentals stitched throughout the album weld together field recordings and wisps of processed samples and are placed evenly between romantic pop balladry and nostalgic bedroom reminiscences. Comfort might be hard-won but it is something worth winning even if it requires wearing a smile as a shield. (www.heladonegro.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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