Last Friday, indie pop favorite Boy Pablo finally released his debut album, “Wachito Rico.” After skyrocketing to fame thanks to the YouTube algorithm in 2017, Nicolás Pablo Muñoz dropped a pair of EPs and several singles. With these releases, Boy Pablo has spent the last couple of years developing the sound that’s warranted him so much attention, and on “Wachito Rico” he sticks to that formula, for the most part. It’s a decent debut record, with some real highlights and a small amount of experimentation.
The songwriting, for the most part, is exactly what one would expect from a Boy Pablo record. For the majority of the tracks, he utilizes traditional pop song structures. This is usually no problem, and the songs are still certainly catchy, but at a certain point it’s difficult to tell some apart, which is a bit of a weakness. Additionally, in most of the songs, the first chorus is very big and maximalist, thus giving them little to no room to grow on subsequent refrains. This leads to some songs that seem to just go on and on, or final choruses that are so full of different synth and guitar melodies that picking out a specific instrument becomes a challenge. Another commonality shared by the tracks is abrupt endings, and it feels like Boy Pablo wasn’t really sure how to end some songs. On a few tracks, notably “te vas // don’t go,” Muñoz strays pretty far from the structure, providing a breath of fresh air on the record.
The specific music and lyrics on the album are also, again, what one would expect from the group. The songs are full of Boy Pablo staples such as jazz chords, yearning lyrics of unrequited love and downtempo drum fills. The lyrics, while containing the expected (and often unwarranted) amount of melodrama, are pretty memorable; Muñoz uses a lot of creative metaphors and turns of phrase. He certainly adds to his arsenal on this album, with many of the tracks brimming with synthesizers, Latin percussion and noticeably pushing his voice to its limits. The songs are full of pretty catchy melodies, and the progressions, though complicated and unique, are generally not uncharted territory for Boy Pablo.
The album’s production is pretty strong throughout, for the most part. A few songs suffer from the band trying to fit too many sounds at once or feeling a little muffled, but much of the time the production is crisp. They do a few interesting things, such as adding crowd sounds in the bridge of the title track or, in several songs, using a variety of strange synth sounds and guitar effects. Speaking of which, his guitar playing on the album shows how he has grown; there’s not a bad solo on the record, and many little riffs throughout demonstrate improvement in both technical and compositional skill.
I also want to speak briefly about several of the song’s standout tracks. “Honey” is an R&B song built around a catchy guitar riff. Its bridge is one of the standout parts of the album, and the track as a whole definitely shows how much Tyler, The Creator and Mac Demarco have inspired Boy Pablo. “te vas // don’t go” is easily the most unique song on the album, as well as the longest to date at nearly six minutes. It’s a ballad led by acoustic guitar and is probably the most melancholic sounding song on the whole album. The use of mellotron and piano, as well as the style of drumming, feel very Beatles, another of Boy Pablo’s biggest influences. “mustache” is another fairly unique song. It’s an uptempo, fun song, with great guitar work, and its lyrics, rather than being about love, are instead about Muñoz’s inability to grow facial hair. The title track is also a standout. “wachito rico” is very disco-inspired, and sung partially in Spanish. Its bridge is very percussion heavy and danceable, and really allows the bass to shine. It sticks to the Boy Pablo formula, but it’s so catchy and energetic that it’s still memorable. If any song is going to be a hit, it’s this one.
Overall, Boy Pablo’s debut is a solid LP. For his fans, it’ll be exactly what they were hoping for, but for people who were curious about how he might have pushed his sound further, you won’t find that here. No song is bad by any means, but many are fairly forgettable. Though he mostly plays it safe, some tracks show his growth as an artist and producer very well, and his popularity and potential undoubtedly mean that Boy Pablo’s best is yet to come.
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