Boy Pablo is a prime example of a unique voice that has come out of the alternative and indie genre in the past few years. While the 21-year-old Chilean-Norwegian artist has not shown the same versatility or branding of an Omar Apollo or a Still Woozy, his brand of stringy indie-pop ballads has gained him a large and supportive fanbase. His latest album "Wachito Rico" is a similar exploration of his sound and development as an artist.
Boy Pablo joined the ranks of the indie-pop scene with his 2017 hit song, “Everytime,” which now has more than 30 million views on Youtube and 70 million streams on Spotify. His success came not from major-label backing or years cultivating a cult image but instead from the sense of authenticity radiating from the video and lyrics.
As he and his band wore streetwear by a river and played their instruments in a goofy way in the corresponding video, it felt as though a real person was behind the camera.
While this sense of genuineness can be hard to maintain, his last extended play (EP), "Soy Pablo," was an improved dive into the indie-pop genre. His focus on woozy seventh chords, danceable choruses and seven-song tracklist kept the EP exciting without feeling repetitive or stale. It proved Boy Pablo was aware of his style and knew how to stick to it consistently. This formula repeats itself on "Wachito Rico" with varying amounts of effectiveness.
On “hey girl,” similar sentiments of love and infatuation are expressed. As he sings, “Hey girl, it’s the first time/I've looked at somebody like this/And hey girl, I’m so nervous/You look so fine,” it feels like a rudimentary but genuine expression of emotion. While his lyrics may not be as playful as Mac Demarco's or as existential as Tame Impala's, he tries to echo a similar sense of honesty and relatability.
“te vas // don't go” offers a much-needed break from the sticky synthesizers and dream-pop guitar chords he is known for, as Boy Pablo croons with only an acoustic guitar and vocals to back him up. As he pleads for his girlfriend to stay with him, it's a testament to his inspirations for more traditional songwriting, while adding his own identity toward it. It feels real and offers a nice change of pace throughout the album.
On “rest up,” he offers insight into his emotional state, which differs from the summer-inspired persona image he is known for. “I keep forgetting these things that are important to me/Darkness gets stuck on my mind, then I get blinded,” he sings. This kind of sentiment differs from his usual surface-level love songs, but it proves that Boy Pablo is more than a mirage of seventh chords and conflicting emotions.
There is a repetitive feeling about "Wachito Rico," which mainly comes in the longer tracklist and the feeling that you’re not truly experiencing something new. If the all-lowercase tracklist and song titles aren't convincing enough, his lyrics border between sounding campy and consistently surface level on this project.
As a listener, the feelings are mixed between craving something new and wondering if he has the ability to come up with anything more substantial and versatile.
On "Wachito Rico," Boy Pablo tends to his strengths to create a relatively consistent album of similar-sounding indie-pop songs. He neither needs nor creates an expansive production or emulates the grandiosity of his alternative contemporaries.
With a bigger range of sound selection and a focus on songwriting instead of cultivating a vibe, his artistry can greatly expand and improve. Fans of "Everytime" and his previous EP will greatly enjoy this album, while people who look for more than traditional dream-pop songs will leave feeling slightly unsatisfied.
Virality and genuineness helped propel Boy Pablo to fame, and "Wachito Rico" proves he knows how to keep his songwriting consistent but formulaic.