ALBUM REVIEW: Helado Negro “Double Youth”

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After a slew of collaborations (Bear In HeavenDevendra Banhart, Julianna Barwick, and others), Roberto Carlos Lange retreated inward to make Double Youth, his fourth full-length release as Helado Negro. Recorded largely in Lange’s home studio in Brooklyn, the album is constructed with simple tools: easy, percussive beats and lullaby-like vocals that swing between Spanish and English. The whole thing falls somewhere between abstract and danceable.

Double Youth‘s guiding theme–and its cover art–comes from an old poster from Lange’s childhood, which he had forgotten about until he pulled it out of the back of his closet one day, in the early stages of recording the album. The image of the two boys posing together, looking both twin-like and not, resonated with Lange. Twosomes crop up everywhere in the making and music of this album: the poster reminded Lange of the warmth of a familiar memory, but also of how far away from that memory he had come; his vocals overlap Spanish with English; the beats recall block party bass lines booming from car speakers, but they easily turn tranquil, with a delicate motif of watery arpeggios that cycles forlornly through this collection. Its components laid bare, Double Youth feels like a conversation, and a kind of imperfect twinship, between voice and computer.

The album’s front half floats by like a pink cloud: the bouncy single “I Krill You” and subsequent track “It’s Our Game” are the two catchiest songs on the collection, and Lange’s lullaby voice is like melted chocolate drizzled over the beat. But over the course of Double Youth, the music develops a huge amount of texture. By the time we get to “That Shit Makes Me Sad,” the cyclical and moody closer, melodies have grown into landscapes, and the early tracks’ sweetness subsides into a strangeness that’s still vaguely benevolent.

On September 2nd, Double Youth will waft gently down to earth, courtesy of Asthmatic Kitty Records. If you simply cannot wait that long to be soothed by smooth vocals and delighted by playful beats, you can stream the whole enchilada over at Pitchfork, in anticipation of the album’s release. Check out “I Krill You” to get a taste:

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