10 Best Latin Albums of 2016

Helado Negro, Alex Anwandter and more of the year's best from Latinx artists

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Helado Negro, 'Private Energy'
10
8/10

8. Helado Negro, 'Private Energy'

Ecuadorian-American artist Roberto Lange, a.k.a. Helado Negro, teases out glitchy, bilingual dreamscapes on his fifth LP. Lange tames the electro-cumbia acrobatics of his 2014 release Double Youth, and untethers more smooth-sailing techno balladry – Pet Sounds transported to the Miami of the future, straight from the heart and self-aware all at once. Single "Runaround" is a sweet, carnivalesque portrait of two robots on a rickety ride into the Tunnel of Love. ("No love can cut our knife in two," he sings tenderly, melding crossed wires into something more like a hug.) Lange emerges fully human in the balmy firmament of "Young Latin and Proud" and "It's My Brown Skin": Written in the wake of Black Lives Matter demonstrations near Lange's residence in Brooklyn, both songs are gentle calls for strength and cultural confidence in the face of intensifying racial tensions. When focused outward, his private energy becomes a salve for the social ills of our time. S.E.

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