Helado Negro - This Is How You Smile
Mar 8, 2019
Helado Negro's new record is a small, intimate album flecked with nostalgic sounds and poetic lyrics. He utilizes a range of electronic and acoustic elements to produce delicate sonic tapestries that help create a reflective tone for the duration of the album. The blend of sounds and languages could feel disjointed, but the strength of this album is the way he arranges these elements to form songs that feel like memories.

The first song is the perfect blend of intimacy, reflective nostalgia, and surreal lyrics. The electronic and acoustic elements function together to suspend time. The entire tune feels surrounded by a warm glow; I thought this song in particular sparkled. 'Fantasma Vaga' also stood out to me as I liked the steady beat and ambient tones that Negro sings over.

I quite like the dreamy production. This issue I have is I do start to doze off because it is so peaceful and soft. The use of chime-like instruments and light vocals gives many of the songs a lullaby quality. 'Running' in particular felt repetitive to the point where I did nod off for a moment. Negro does mitigate this a bit by having a few songs with a quicker tempo, but even the more upbeat songs have a relaxed ease to them. This is a fine quality, but I do wish I was slightly more engaged.

I went into this with little expectations and found it to be a pleasant listening experience. I love the addition of steel drums, and the blend of acoustic and electronic sounds keep the album feeling fresh. Negro opens his messy closet of sounds and begins to pull out his personal favorites and present them to you. It is an intimate performance of self-reflection, and I appreciate how delicate the album sounds. It is the sonic equivalent of a sunbeam; there is a spiritual familiarity that warms your soul. It also makes me a little sleepy.
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