This Is How You Smile
In 2016’s Private Energy, Roberto Carlos Lange, a.k.a. Helado Negro, celebrated his identity while highlighting themes like racially targeted enforcement and gender fluidity. The Brooklyn-based singer-producer’s follow-up, This Is How You Smile, allows him to wind down and find his center. Smile is by turns more self-reflective, a vivid reverie of personal memories bedded in delicate acoustic strums and atmospheric dreamscapes. Lange's articulate, compassionate voice softens the album's dense arrangements (which are interspersed with field recordings and ambient interludes). On “País Nublado,” a balmy bossa nova groove ambles against Lange’s pithy haikus. Serene piano strokes lead the way over his soulful, whispered baritone on both “Running” and “Please Won’t Please.” “Seen My Aura” is more effervescent by comparison, but just as chill—a lysergic funk jam where Lange’s naturalistobservations take flight.