There's something that happens in the cold, particularly to people from warm climates. When winter comes, your hope fades, and you question the decisions that led you from tropical enclaves, to bitter, frostbitten wastelands. But eventually, you might make a connection with a small group of like-minded people, and you forge a community. And that's when it all begins to make sense. "Chicago winters are brutal, especially if your body grew up in a tropical climate," says Camilo Medina, lead singer and guitarist of Chicago-by-way-of-Miami-by-way-of-Colombia band Divino Niño.
Divino Niño came together serendipitously when Medina and bassist Javier Forero—who met as kids in Bogotá, Colombia—reconnected by pure coincidence when both their families moved to Miami. They've since made a name for themselves after releasing 2014's Pool Jealousy and 2016's The Shady Sexifornia Tapes, but to them, Foam feels like their first proper album. "We released an EP, and The Native Sound reached out and offered us a deal to release an album on vinyl if we added three songs," Medina said. "We recorded three more songs, and then eventually released an album made up of all our demos while we worked on Foam."
On Foam, premiering here ahead of its June 21 release, Divino Niño continues the streak of Latinx and Latin American bands like Inner Wave and Boogarins currently owning the psych-pop scene. And they're part of a fascinating movement of artists in American pop who are slowly filtering the sounds of their parents' birthplaces through new takes on more commonly familiar soundscapes. This new generation of musicians and artists are defining the music of this era through the lens of first and second-generation Americanhood.
And while Divino Niño's sound is certainly indebted to English-language bands like the Beatles or SIlver Apples, they only recently discovered those bands. "I hadn't even heard The Beatles until I moved to Chicago," said Medina. "A song like 'Maria' is more influenced by [Colombian] band Aterciopelados," he adds.
But it's this lack of an intrinsic English-language psych upbringing that makes Divino Niño's sound fresh. At its core, Foam is a carefully crafted pop album—informed heavily by the 70s pop crooners like Sandro de America, José José, and others that filled Latinx and Latin American airwaves as the members of the band grew up.
On "Plastic Love," uncomplicated but effective lyrics like "Yeah, baby I'm on this everlasting lucid dream / of plastic love when you're with me," accompany mischievous melodies and bolero-derived rhythms, making this one of the most discernible moments of utter transculturation on the album. But even with their dabble into bolero, what Foam most draws on outside of psych are the sounds of 70s Latin American pop. Singers like Roberto Carlos and Piruli ooze out of the speakers during songs like the aforementioned "Maria," and "Melty Caramelo."
On Foam, the band has delivered a cohesive set of songs meant to be consumed in one sitting—something their oft-transitory nature prevented in recent years. "The biggest missing piece of the puzzle for us to be able to make this record was actually becoming part of a music scene—the community out in Chicago," Medina says. "We all filter each other's stuff out. [So] everything that actually made it through has been through is meaningful to us. We felt like we had something to say."
Stream Foam exclusively here. It's available everywhere via Winspear on Friday June 21.