Balún’s “La Nueva Ciudad” Slows and Throws Dembow Into an Indie Pop Daydream

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Balún has been working toward a second full-length for several years, though the band has issued a few singles and releases in that time. The Brooklyn-based band – whose members all hail from Puerto Rico – has also been bringing the dembow riddim into their dreamy indie electronica for a few years now. We got to hear a bit of this new sound, which they are calling dreambow, on 2014’s “Años Atrás.”

Now the Brooklyn Boricuas are unveiling the first single from their forthcoming sophomore album Prisma Tropicaltitled “La Nueva Ciudad.” Progressive but fully functional as dance pop, it’s as sublime as it is genuinely danceable, with surreal lyrics about distance and confusion in a relationship. It sounds in parts like Asobi Seksu colliding happily with Bomba Estéreo and is arranged almost like the living layers of a rainforest. Angélica Negrón’s airy vocals carry the melody up high in the canopy, sometimes letting bright vocal samples and twinkly tiples pick it up. The floor is composed of purring bass synth and a slow, gentle dembow thump. In the middle, a dazzling array of rhythms flit in and out, with what sounds like cabasa standing in for the requisite indie pop egg shaker. But it’s so much more than an indie band borrowing a dembow beat.

The single comes bundled with a B-side cover of “Está en Tus Manos,” from Javiera Mena’s landmark album Esquemas Juveniles, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The simple acoustic song gets a dreambow makeover with a slowed, sticky beat. Like Mena, Balún have been making music together for fully 10 years and have shown they have the ability to grow and reinvent themselves beautifully. This track suggests Prisma Tropical could be their own musical landmark, one to appreciate for years to come.

Balún have also curated an exclusive playlist for us via Apple Music. “These songs represent a variety of textures, sounds, rhythms, and experiences that have been interwoven in our subconscious when writing songs for this album,” they told us over email. “From otherworldly sounds to tropical and nostalgic dembow, these songs capture the essence of what’s hidden in ‘La Nueva Ciudad.’”

Keep an eye out for Prisma Tropical, set to drop soon via Good Child Music.