Release Date: Mar 8, 2019
Record label: RVNG Intl.
Considering how Private Energy positively beamed thanks to radiant songs like "It's My Brown Skin" and "Young, Latin and Proud," the title of Helado Negro's sixth album could come as a surprise. However, on This Is How You Smile, Roberto Carlos Lange finds ways to sustain a sense of identity, family, and love when that energy runs low. For these strong yet tender songs, Lange drew inspiration from Jamaica Kincaid's short story "Girl," in which an immigrant mother gives her daughter instructions on how to survive and thrive in a world that wasn't made for her.
A decade later, I still try. Back in the Americas, though not my place of birth, I continue to listen to Helado Negro’s music. What do I find? Transformations. Things got grittier, sparser, loopier. The lyrics turned opaque as enunciation lost precedence to mood. College roommates gave way to ….
The title for Helado Negro's spectral and triumphant seventh studio album— This Is How You Smile— derives from a Jamaica Kincaid story titled "Girl" that is narrated from the perspective of a mother giving her daughter advice on how to survive in the world. The advice is at once chiding and conciliatory, composed of the wisdom of her years and filtered into words that are intended to be practical tools. Though Helado Negro (aka Roberto Carlos Lange) might not have diagrammed a 12-step program for smiling, the resulting model is informed by a spirit of persistence that one cannot help but be influenced by.