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Helado Negro returns with This Is How You Smile, an album that freely flickers between clarity and obscurity, past and present geographies, bright and unhurried seasons. Miami-born, New York-based artist Roberto Carlos Lange embraces a personal and universal exploration of aura – seen, felt, emitted – on his sixth album and second for RVNG Intl.
This Is How You Smile’s opener Please Won’t Please, a call back to Private Energy, finds vitality in turning the privacy dial further inward. Setting the scene with a spare drumbeat that moves the music forward in a more maligned than militant march, Lange’s voice tenderly permits himself weariness: “We light ourselves on fire, just to see if anyone believes.” Something must be reserved, “will anyone rescue what’s left of me.” Diving into glimmering spirals, the remainder of the album takes leave of the broader “we” and mines intimate pairings - siblings, parent / child relationships, partnership, and old friends. The story of This Is How You Smile includes a jaunty, head-nodding walk with his brother on hot pavement to the community pool of his childhood neighbourhood in Florida. Such days end with a welcome fatigue and chlorine blurred reveries in Seen My Aura. The confidence and security of youth, moves away from family, across years and regions, to a bleak winter of Imagining What to Do, and loving partners deciding to make each other smile, while waiting for the sun to return.
This Is How You Smile invites listeners on a walk through the changing colours of early mornings and evenings, writing, recording, or hearing a friend, a figure emerges, and there you are.