“I hope she loves me back / My heart would break if she don’t,” Boy Pablo gushes on ‘i hope she loves me back’, the opening track from debut album ‘Wachito Rico’, as gooey synths cascade around him, throwing the listener into a whirlwind of teenage melodrama.
Much like the EPs that followed – 2017’s ‘roy pablo’ and 2018’s ‘soy pablo’ – there’s still heartache aplenty on ‘Wachito Rico’, Muñoz consolidating his commitment to innocent romantic struggles. The album title itself signifies an alter-ego, meaning ‘handsome boy’ in Chilean slang. The guise proves a centre point for Muñoz to blend some of his own experiences with fictional elements.
Lead single ‘hey girl’ cuts in with an isolated jangly guitar line and a loose bassline, forming a juicy bop for him to get straight to the point with starry eyed lyricism: “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, you make me shiver like crazy.” It’s not long for before his playful spirit comes in the musical department as a Super Mario-style synth breakdown kicks in before dreamy service resumes.
From start to finish, the album thrives on its carefree simplicity, whipping you back into life pre- rent and bills. Even ‘leave me alone’, on which Muñoz contemplates a break-up, comes with a sense of vibrancy as he jovially beams atop a pop groove: “I just wanna dance and be in the zone / Eat some candy / Just leave me alone.” Here he fully embraces his Latino heritage, depicting dialogue between Wachito and his mates: “Ah, tranqui, quédate Yapo.”
There’s a dazed quality, which was a defining factor on those previous releases, throughout this record. See the glossy ‘come home’, which meanders into sun-flecked psych territory, and the more urgent and comical ‘mustache’, with which Muñoz thematically explores a character’s desire to grow some facial hair: “I dreamt I had a moustache / It was dope / I looked just like Tom Selleck / I was happy with myself / But sadly I woke up again.”
Muñoz isn’t afraid to swerve onto more heartfelt and serious ground, though. With ‘te vas’ he cuts away from proceedings with the hushed nuance of a solitary acoustic guitar, offering intimacy as he pleads his girlfriend to stay: “Te vas / Don’t leave / Oh, please, don’t leave.”
Muñoz also deals with some of the challenges that come with finding global fame as a 17-year-old. In recent years he’s been open about struggles with both insomnia and anxiety, which he tackles head-on with the airy and melodic single ‘rest up’, a song comes with the diary-like dispatch: “I keep forgetting these things that are important to me / Darkness gets stuck on my mind / And I get blinded.” It’s a moment that suggests there might be more to Muñoz than the chirpy and colourful persona he has cultivated.
Boy Pablo ensures the outright slacker-pop bangers are in abundance as well with the likes of ‘honey’, which will immediately satisfy the senses of any fans of the sun-splashed sounds of Mac DeMarco. Nothing feels forced in the musical department, rolling bass and euphoric synths sounding casual, Muñoz seeming happy to gently muse on his romantic struggles with the unapologetically soppy lines: “Falling isn’t really that bad / If it’s for you.”
The title track offers one of the most urgent moments on the record, with groovy disco hooks and background crowd noise blurring as Muñoz beckons the listener to move – and you’d be a fool not to join him. It’s a testament to his skill that with the sheer amount going on throughout ‘Wachito Rico’, the record never feels confused or lacking flow; everything has a natural sense of poise.
‘Wachito Rico’ exudes a breadth of musicianship that proves Boy Pablo is no flash in the pan, despite having found viral fame overnight. This magnificent debut confirms that Lady Luck – and YouTube algorithms – couldn’t have smiled on a more deserving individual.
Release date: October 23
Record label: 777