Home » Music » Unhealthy Bunny’s new album ‘Un Verano Sin Ti’ is a love letter to Puerto Rico : NPR

Unhealthy Bunny’s new album ‘Un Verano Sin Ti’ is a love letter to Puerto Rico : NPR

On his new album Un Verano Sin Ti, Unhealthy Bunny opts for private intimacy and cultural specificity, anchoring his music within the Caribbean.

Eric Rojas


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Eric Rojas


On his new album Un Verano Sin Ti, Unhealthy Bunny opts for private intimacy and cultural specificity, anchoring his music within the Caribbean.

Eric Rojas

Un Verano Sin Ti shouldn’t be Unhealthy Bunny‘s first heartbreak album, however it’s his most grounded. On his newest launch, Unhealthy Bunny anchors his most in-depth exploration of misplaced love within the Caribbean, with the sound of its unceasing motion, the gravel of its Spanish, its dembow, its thick rain. And whereas Un Verano Sin Ti is ostensibly about an individual and their absence in Benito’s life, its pleasure and craving is all the time rooted within the floor beneath him.

Unhealthy Bunny has all the time put Puerto Rico entrance and middle in his work since his breakthrough in 2016. His full-length tasks have instructed a distinctly Boricua story in theme and sound, remaining grounded in his private authenticity, his circulate and his group whereas trying larger, extra daring experiments. His debut X 100PRE was his first showcase of his style agility; YHLQMDLG squared in a scholastic reverence to the canon and legends of old-school Puerto Rican reggaeton; El Último Tour del Mundo was the introspective alt album, nu-metal riffs and all. However somewhat than promote audiences one other massive, genre-bending experiment, on Un Verano Sin Ti Benito opts for private intimacy and cultural specificity, which the music cultivates at each flip.

Recorded partly in Puerto Rico and partly within the Dominican Republic, Un Verano Sin Ti‘s most notable moments come when it infuses Benito’s extraordinary circulate and pop sensibility with hyperlocal touchpoints. Benito is adept at delivering a shock and he is continually one-upping himself on this album. Following “Moscow Mule,” the primary single and summer time hit opener analysts might need forecasted nicely sufficient, comes the left-field “Después de la Playa.” After Benito warms up the refrain over a couple of, spacey opening synths, he faucets the mic and transforms right into a mambero, his “¡Zumba!” detonating a volcanic merengue concocted by Dominican merengue architect Dahian el Apechao. It is a dwelling, respiratory monitor that evokes the intimacy of nice dwell albums previous, reverberating with the acoustic heat of a room and the our bodies transferring in it.

His manufacturing group closes the deal, with Marco “MAG” Borrero’s string riffs, Tainy’s auteur experimentation and authentic crewmember La Paciencia making a cross-genre soundscape that creates room for innovation on even the album’s extra formulaic tracks. “Tití Me Preguntó,” a tongue-in-cheek dembow flip of phrase on the pure regulation of pestering metida aunts, includes a wistful acoustic riff threaded all through a warped Kiko el Loopy pattern and a melancholy synth bridge. His collaborations are meticulously curated, opting this time to middle not simply reggaeton heavyweights however indie innovators alike. The beautiful “Ojitos Lindos” makes the thought of falling in love after heartbreak really feel model new with a duet with Colombia’s Bomba Estéreo, whose silvery guitars, brilliant distant horns and refrains from Li Saumet are an encyclopedic entry in what fashionable Caribbean music is turning into. And following YHLQMDLG‘s precedent of that includes reggaeton forefathers, the album spotlights Plan B’s Chencho Corleone and Tony Dize in tracks that sound lifted from 2005.

Not all of the callbacks to the previous have the identical impact. “Dos Mil 16,” whereas filled with nostalgic references to his beginnings in 2016 — together with his authentic “Unhealthy Bunny child” tag up high — is extra wrapped up in its idea than its execution. The inclusion of “Callaita” as the ultimate monitor, at this level three years outdated, is at finest a reminder of how reliably Benito can curate the sound of the summer time (its ambient seagulls recur all through the album), however at worst makes an in any other case exacting file really feel carelessly overrun at 23 tracks with a well-known, if much less daring nearer.

In contrast to lots of the Latin pop business undertaking, Unhealthy Bunny’s topics and musical references are exactly targeted. In April, Puerto Rico skilled an island-wide blackout, the newest in a sequence of outages after its electrical grid was broken by Hurricane Maria. In 2021, the facility grid was privatized, a transfer met with public protest over hovering prices, continued outages and issues concerning transparency.

“El Apagón,” which references the blackouts, stitches collectively samples of a music, efficiency and interview from salsero Ismael “Maelo” Rivera, a refrain sampled from a DJ Joe mixtape, and his girlfriend Gabriela Berlingeri’s voice with a sovereign vindication targeted on this actuality. The music’s repetition of “Puerto Rico es bien cabrón” is as pressing as Gabriela’s outro pointed at wealthy, white settlers displacing Puerto Ricans for tax advantages: “Que se vayan ellos / Que se vayan ellos.” (“Allow them to go away / Allow them to go away.”) Like YHLQMDLG’s “Safaera” earlier than it, “El Apagón” is in fixed dialog with the musical floor laid earlier than it and possesses a breakneck capability to attract connections between seemingly disparate materials and expressions. In reflecting the truth of uncared for infrastructure and displacement as a byproduct of continued colonization, the music’s celebration is as resolute as its resistance — an integral element within the lineage of Puerto Rican music, from Maelo to Benito, and one older than them each.

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Un Verano Sin Ti is as emotionally intimate as it’s particular. Its most character-driven monitor “Andrea” with digital duo Buscabulla is a meditation on the inside lifetime of a Puerto Rican girl navigating her goals, wishes and anxieties unbiased of the constraints positioned on her by males she disdains, her household’s expectations and funds. She does not need to go away Puerto Rico for the US. Satirically, Benito compares her without delay to the saint Joan of Arc and the oft-reviled, oft-iconic cabaret vedette Niurka Marcos. However even amid all this character-setting, the music does not declare to grasp her struggles — she is barely past its full grasp, as she needs to be.

Un Verano Sin Ti is a automobile for longing in each sense — filled with musical actions that push ahead and backwards and a sun-tired feeling that accompanies discovering consolation within the current in any case. It is a dialectic acquainted to the Caribbean. There is a steadfastness find peace amid a lot change and but not sufficient of it, as Buscabulla’s Raquel Berrios sings within the refrain of “Andrea”: “Que digan lo que sea / Yo subo y bajo como la marea.” (“They will say no matter / I’m going up and down just like the tide.”)

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