Buscabulla – ‘Regresa’ review: Puerto Rican duo’s homecoming laced with slick grooves and sparks of hope

Returning home in the wake of a natural disaster, Buscabulla have channelled their complex emotions wonderfully

There’s a simmering rage at the core of Buscabulla’s debut album, ‘Regresa’. It is a rage that is indiscriminate to its target, whether it be natural, metaphysical or societal. On ‘Vamonos’ there’s a desperate rally against a perilous situation (“This thing won’t last much longer/Take it cause it’s gonna blow”), while ‘Mío’ offers a bleak warning: “If you play with fire you will get burned/You will see that the day will come/I warned you”.

For this album, duo Raquel Berríos and Luis Alfredo Del Valle needed to only look around them to channel that anger. Following the devastation left by Hurricane María in 2017, the pair returned to their native Puerto Rico after a stint in New York City. The storm took an incredible toll on the island: over 3,000 people were estimated to have died. The response from President Trump and his government was widely criticised – promoting a dangerous rhetoric indicated that Puerto Ricans “wanted everything done for them” as locals were trying to put their lives back together.

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Upon their return, Buscabulla sought be a part of those local communities, building on their work as co-founders of non-profit PRIMA Fund (Puerto Rican Independent Musician and Artists), that helps to embolden its independent music scene with financial support and more. R&B-infused ‘No Sabemos’ is laced with a sense of hopelessness – there is an uncertain path ahead, but cracks of light are beginning to show: “Keep going without knowing where we are going to end/Because what you don’t know can save you”

There’s righteous despair in ‘Regresa’, but space for hope, too. Returning to their home and reconnecting with those communities brings liveliness and sparks of tiny joy. A slick funk groove slithers away on the house-tinged ‘NTE’, while ‘Nydia’ – dedicated to Puerto Rican hero Nydia Caro – offers Phoenix-flecked soundscapes with the muted rhythms of Toro Y Moi. ‘El Aprieto’ provides a push and pull between conflicting mindsets, eventually finding solace in the middle ground: “It’s starting to squeeze and this thing is turning dark/But keep still, cause little by little we’ll get out of here”.

The journey home for the pair has been perilous, but that mix of rage and hope is potent. They see a better community on the horizon, but know that they must be a part of its foundations – ‘Regresa’ is a magnificent rumination on those complex emotions.

Details

Release date: May 8
Record label: Domino

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