A celebration of a folksy past and an electronica pop present.
When I completed my first listen to Lido Pimienta’s second album ‘Miss Colombia’ I had one thought. ‘wow – what a difference streamlining chaos into celebration can make!’ You see Lido’s debut album ‘La Papessa’ was a mixture of fantastic Colombian fused art-pop and atonal cries of vocal abandon. It was powerful but also chaotic and took many listens to unveil its charms. Here with ‘Miss Columbia’, Pimienta is laser-focused on providing celebratory and empowering music with a smile. It pays off.
The whole album is focused around Lido’s strong and emotive voice and some central musical motifs. The album is bookended with different flavours of the same song like a day and night cycle. ‘Para Transcibir’ has a SOL version and a LUNA version where Lido’s voice and the arrangement of the song wakes you up or lulls you to safe slumber. Between these tracks, we have a huge mix of Colombia’s finest percussion, brass and choruses to enjoy. If its ‘Te Querios’ steel drums or the fanfare of brass and organs in ‘Eso Que Tu Haces’ – this a proud album.
You can view the album as a day/night cycle or you can view it as each song travelling further back in time. Lido Pimienta may be Canadian as well as Colombian but she is intent of mining back through time sonically as the album becomes more primal as it progresses. All the huge electronic arrangements fit upfront. The beautiful woodwind and chants of ‘Nada’ are supplemented with thick basslines and glitchy drums. The Afro-Latin beats of ‘Te Queria’ and ‘No Pude’ make the former song a breezy summers day and the latter track punchy. Fans of her debut will find ‘No Pude’ the closest thing to it as it spends a lot of time feeling mystical and opaque in tone.
‘Coming Thru’ represents the watershed moment for the album as it recalls the chorus of ‘Eso Que Tu Haces’ in a pure brass and vocal arrangement. It was at this point I went to translate the largely Spanish lyrics of the album to find the story woven throughout the album. Yes, the music is largely celebratory in tone but the lyrics are a mixture of rallying cries for an uprising and doing better. This isn’t at just a human level, but it can also be discussed at a political one.
‘Quiero Que Me Salves’ takes the sound right back to pure acoustic percussion and vocal chant. The entrancing fire dance features Sexteto Tabala who play traditional Afro-Colombian music like a boss. Lido plays a call and response vocal with them and calls for us to change our ways and fix the past. ‘Pelo Cucu’ continues this dive into the indigenous sound with more primal issues. The track speaks of issues of marriage to improve the bloodline and feels like a lament and rageful outcry too. ‘Resisto Y Ya’ then reflects back on all these different scenarios that Lido Pimienta has sung about over the course of the album – racism, sexism, politics, relationships, love and heritage – and tells you to stand tall as who you are. It returns to the brassy warmth of the earlier section of the album and is an anthem for the marginalised. It is then when you hear the LUNA closer in this context that the song sounds not only warmer and safer but cleansed too. The bubbling up of the vocals evokes Bjork’s ‘Medulla’ at times but in a pure and united way.
‘Miss Colombia’ for me initially felt so full of hope, promise and celebration when I listened purely to the musical side of it as a non-Spanish speaker. There is so much joy to be found from the extravagant arrangements that shine to the roots-based fireside dances. What takes it to the next level is the pointed messages and inner survival and hope that Lido Pimienta declares to the world. It makes that feeling of sounding and being free all the more tasty when the chorus hits. Superb.
Recommended track: Eso Que Tu Hacas
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