Helado Negro have shared “Please Won’t Please,” the first single from their forthcoming new album This Is How You Smile, out Mar. 8, 2019, via RVNG International.
Helado Negro’s music is often inseparable from frontman Robert Carlos Lange’s identity as a child of Ecuadorian immigrants. His last album, 2016’s Private Energy, addressed the complexities of an immigrant identity with songs like “Young, Latin and Proud,” in which he grappled with the ways that your skin can bring you pride and hardship in equal measure.
For his new album, Lange has turned his focus further inward. His lyrics are more opaque, his songs more obtuse. “Left out an ocean on top / Blue tie and orange won’t let go,” he sings in a gentle baritone over a thrumming dream-groove. The meaning is less immediately obvious than on a song like “Young, Latin and Proud.” It feels like the impressionistic thoughts of a bedridden mind, the description of feelings as colors or the faintest sense of things outside a window.
But Lange’s focus on identity hasn’t wavered—it’s only become more molecular, less foregrounded. “That brown won’t go / Brown just glows,” he sings in the chorus. Lange took inspiration from the Jamaica Kincaid short story “Girl” in writing the album, and that story’s focus on the granular nature of racial identity is felt here. The color of his skin is rendered in the broadest, most subconscious terms. He’s still proud, yes. But the people who’d want to see him suffer for it are more apparent than ever. “And we’ll light ourselves on fire / just to see who really / wants to believe that it’s just me.”
Helado Negro will tour Central and North America and Europe in 2019 with Beirut, in addition to playing select headlining shows. Find a full list of dates further down.
Listen to “Please Won’t Please” below.
Helado Negro Tour Dates:
10 – Brooklyn, N.Y. @ Brooklyn Steel*
11 – Brooklyn, N.Y. @ Brooklyn Steel*
12 – Boston, Mass. @ House of Blues – Boston*
14 – Washington, D.C. @ The Anthem*
15 – Upper Darby, Pa. @ Tower Theatre*
16 – Brooklyn, N.Y. @ Music Hall of Williamsburg*
19 – Montreal, Que. @ MTELUS*
20 – Toronto, Ont. @ Sony Centre for the Performing Arts*
21 – Milwaukee, Wis. @ Pabst Theatre*
22 – Chicago, Ill. @ Riviera Theatre*
23 – St. Paul, Minn. @ Palace Theatre*
26 – Vancouver, B.C. @ Orpheum Theatre*
27 – Seattle, Wash. @ Paramount Theatre*
28 – Portland, Ore. @ Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall*
02 – Oakland, Calif. @ Fox Theater*
10 – Los Angeles, Calif. – Walt Disney Concert Hall &
(* w/ Beirut)
(& w/ Lila Downs)