Puerto Rican pop duo Los Wálters has always shown strong singularity, pushing a trademark crisp-and-clean Caribbean pop aesthetic that runs unfailingly from sound to visuals. With their fourth full-length out today, they’ve taken things a step further: Isla Disco creates a world all their own.
The concept of Los Wálters’ music as a place has kind of always been there, though. For years, the founding members have lived in different cities: Luis López Varona at first in Barcelona, now San Juan, and Ángel Emanuel Figueroa in Philadelphia then Miami, and most recently, São Paulo. Their collaboration as Los Wálters has always been their meeting place, a constant confined mainly to the internet for lack of convening in person. Isla Disco, then, is a sonic tour of what that spot looks like now, six years into shaping it.
“Claridad” is as lit-up as its name implies. The album opener is a perpetual glisten, with peaks of bright synth like moonlight flashes like whipping around hairpin turns in a forest at night. A clearing appears on “Balada Lunar,” a brooding and darkly danceable number; “Amaneció,” of course, marks the sunrise.
But as much as Isla Disco is its own world, it’s also very much Puerto Rico — or maybe just a different version of it. We take a trip to Puerto Rico’s western coast with “Mayagüez,” the first obvious stray from the verisimilitude that we’re someplace else. In the lyrics, they even mention the struggle of living a suffering economy. But in the island Los Wálters have dreamed up, a beachfront hammock does more than assuage your problems, it’s a place for conspiring to rise above them.
Maybe where Los Wálters has taken us is not a totally unreal place, but rather a parallel realm, some kind of unseen dimension that exists right atop Puerto Rico — and only they’ve got the key to the gates of visibility. If that’s the case, we get all the island’s actual magic, from the glimmering waterfalls of Ceiba to the salty, pink waters of Cabo Rojo and the majestic El Yunque rainforest. There’s a tinge of slowed-down ’80s italo disco in it all, too; the album title is probably a nod to that homage.
Theories and conjecture aside, the point is this: Isla Disco can transport you out of wherever you’re at now. Somewhere that makes nonstop dancing possible as the day comes and the night rolls in, someplace where there’s no room for gloom, where the good vibes are so thick, you can’t help but indulge in blissful revelry instead.
Los Walters will perform at the House of Creatives Festival on November 19th.