Grenda’s ‘Untouchable Skin’ Will Put You In a Shapeshifting Dream Pop Trance

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Last year, Tijuana youngster Eduardo Amezcua left a great impression on us with Living Right, his debut EP as Grenda. It captured his passion for hip-hop and dream pop alike in five expansive, stirring tracks. We didn’t have to wait long to learn what musical path he decided to follow after that, because now, not even a year later, he’s back with his first full-length. On Untouchable Skin, Grenda delivers on the promise of his previous offerings.

In 11 tracks, many of which he had already previewed in his stellar live performances, Amezcua creates warm and embracing atmospheres with reverb and thick synths, while maintaining a solid rhythmic foundation that’s strongly linked to hip-hop. This emerges on trap-tinted tracks like opener “Let Me Know” and “Dry Lips,” and more trip hop-inspired moments like first single “Element of Risk.” The latter remains a standout track here, with its hypnotic shapes and melodic bass hook and vocals, which will surely stick with you for days and days.

Grenda has already found a way to tackle vocal melodies that work perfectly for him and his songs. They’re beautifully simple and coexist with the rest of the elements symbiotically, rather than taking an overwhelming lead. On the seven-minute opus “Run,” he collaborates with fellow Tijuaneses Mint Fieldwho counts among its members Amezcua’s own sister. He also trades vocal duties with Field’s Estrella Sánchez, a choice that adds some depth to the mix. The song conjures cinematic vistas, surfing from the most ethereal ambient passages to fun, danceable moments of joy.

It doesn’t take long to recognize Amezcua’s modus operandi, and you might start identifying the little (or sometimes big) motifs he enjoys using. Even though he has a tendency to repeat himself, Grenda manages to draw the listener’s complete attention throughout the album, thanks to his detailed production, his playfulness, and the way he switches things up and catches you offguard. For instance, the larger-than-life “Higher” is a welcome foray into maximalism, finding him closer to acts like Rustie, but manages to retain his signature sound palette and melodic style.

Untouchable Skin proves that Grenda has a strong point of view as a producer and songwriter, even as a young teenager. Amezcua’s ability to develop and present a sound and style that he can already call his own is impressive, and even more so when it flaunts expert craftsmanship. The most exciting part? It’s just the beginning.

Don’t miss Grenda’s set this Sunday at Festival Nrmal. Untouchable Skin is out now on Static Discos.