You’re trudging through a crumbling wastescape, your legs dragging you forward step by step. Every muscle in your body is sore beyond belief. You’re tired and hopeless. In the distance, below the biting wind, you hear the sound of moving water. You move towards the sound, parting some bushes and peer into a clearing. You’ve found it. Among the wreckage that litters the rest of the world, a world merely getting by, there is still a place dedicated to pleasure. The keys are yours. Have fun. That’s how “The Last Spa On Earth” feels.
Divino Niño’s previous work has stayed within the dream-pop-psych-rock realm (think Mild High Club), but with their latest release they’ve leaned much harder into the dreampop side of things, sprinkling a smattering of other influences into their music as well.
You don’t have to listen very far to hear the electronic influences presenting themselves. Fast drum break samples build up on “Tu Tonto.” Elements of bass are mixed into “Ecstasy,” sandwiched between an electro-house groove. “Miami” cheekily references the Will Smith track of the same name while backed by a club sound. “I Am Nobody” ends with a quick techno beat, while “Especial” has more of a house-y finish.
In terms of lyrical substance, it’s pretty hard for me to gauge. Most of the lyrics are in Spanish, and unfortunately, my rudimentary high school Spanish chops aren’t cutting it. From what I can gather, the lyrics are casual comments on love and lust, but I can’t say for sure.
Each song flows nicely into the next, never breaking the train of bliss from track to track, but the crowning achievement here is the variety in each track. When it comes to the variety in a song, there is a fine balancing act between novelty and coherence. Throw too many new ideas at the listener, and it becomes too easy to get lost. Don’t introduce enough ideas, and the song gets too stale.
Every track on “The Last Spa On Earth” manages to carry out this balancing act with grace. Let’s take the song “Ecstasy” for example, which starts out with a peppy four-on-the floor dance beat and ends with a slowed chorus of bittersweet guitars and spacey synths. The ending of “XO” enters full reggae territory after two and a half minutes of dream pop. These changes aren’t abrupt though. They bleed enough elements into each other to sound natural.
When you go to a spa, you aren’t just getting your back rubbed the whole time. That would be silly. At the spa, they’re gonna slather you with mud, put hot stones on you, guide you to the sauna, and perhaps perform a microdermabrasion or two. You’re getting relaxed and spoiled in a variety of different ways, and that’s exactly what you can expect going into this album.
Divino Niño has done the impressive; making an album that is extremely accessible without sacrificing depth. It’s a treat for the ears. All of my chips are on this album.
I give Divino Niño’s “The Last Spa On Earth” a strong ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆. Great album.