We’re living in the times of Latinx guitar soul music made by people who are just out of their teens. It’s undoubtedly one of the most exciting movements in music today, and 2019 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for the style, thanks to releases by artists such as Cuco, Omar Apollo, Ambar Lucid, Foliage, and others. With the release of WYA, Inner Wave have given us one of the most important documents of this movement, while at the same time finding the band far from the confines of this nascent sound.

With WYA, the Inglewood-raised quintet are taking a big step forward in terms of artistic accomplishments. Originally the musical outlet of Strokes-loving friends who developed a chillwave-infused indie rock style, Inner Wave have been building a following thanks to constant touring and releases like Underwater Pipe Dreams. However, their new EP was born out of defeat; while on tour last year, thieves took equipment from their U-Haul, including their drum set. Returning home with no drums, the band decided to write WYA on beats they programmed, apparently inspired by everyone from Madlib, to Rico Nasty, to Tears For Fears. This shift changed their sound, adapting to a different set of tools, and it helped them improve their songwriting skills, making WYA their boldest statement yet.

Each of the tracks on the EP has a strong melodic foundation. Hooks abound, jazz chords and musical textures paint a vivid picture in every verse and chorus, and simple rhythms that make you bop your head are featured prominently. Perhaps their greatest achievement is situating their music within a tradition of R&B and soul that’s not bound to a single period in time – it sounds as contemporary as it sounds vintage, although from a time period one can’t quite put their finger on. These are memorable songs that recall nostalgia for the present, rather than a half remembered past.

WYA is definitely Inner Wave’s poppier release; it’s catchy but also challenging and evocative, while taking the listener by the hand. It’s also their move towards a new level where genres no longer will define the band. This is Inner Wave’s biggest statement, and it’s a hot one.

Stream the EP below: