The Chilean music scene has been producing some of the best Latin indie pop of the last decade and there’s no sign of things slowing down. Newcomer Namuel just released his first mini-album Folclórico, a collection of songs chronicling the exuberance and struggles of young love. The young artist isn’t afraid to go to a place of deep emotional frailty. He titled the record and album opener Folclórico because the work is descriptive of his own history.
Namuel is very much a product of social media and the modern age of music. He started out by playing keyboards for Javiera Mena, which gave him insight into songwriting and live performance. His own aesthetic is that of an angelic fashion brat, and by now he’s put out two music videos featuring him with different male love interests, something that in the past might have killed an emerging public career. Unlike most male musicians, these songs also put Namuel in a more passive role in the relationship, often making him the object of beauty and desire, instead of the pursuer. For male singers, this is always a vulnerable position to be in, but Namuel is no stranger to challenging gender structures.
Folclórico feels like the lifespan of a relationship, almost resembling a concept album. The first two songs–the title track and “El Amor Es Desigual–” set things up with Namuel leaving a broken relationship and finding new love. The very danceable “Babycakes” finds him happy again, but the mood darkens in “Desbloquéame,” where some cleverly placed and throwback MSN Messenger sound effects begin to indicate the decline of the affair. The album’s best moments come from the final two tracks. “Corazon Pixelado” is heartbreaking, with Namuel lamenting over the fact that he never got so much as a drunken text from his lover, repeating “no me extrañas” all through the chorus. “Lucha Libre,” a beautiful and fitting Jill Sobule cover, closes out the record with our hero reaching the inevitable conclusion “nunca vas a amarme.”
Fun and heartfelt, Folclórico is an exciting step in Namuel’s career. If this record is truly a history of his journey thus far, we hope he finds solace in the cathartic power of music and can learn to love again.