Music

ChuCha Santamaria a ’90s throwback

chucha

ChuCha Santamaria Y Usted

ChuCha Santamaria Y Usted

Release Date: Jun 28, 11

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ChuCha Santamaria Y Usted’s unusual moniker covers the duo at the heart of this unusual but remarkably catchy debut mini-LP. ChuCha Santamaria is Sofia Cordova, resident of Oakland by way of Puerto Rico, and the esteemed Usted is Matt Kirkland, also from Oakland by way of Brooklyn. The Puerto Rican influence definitely shows up on ChuCha, but the bigger key is the common Puerto Rican hub in the U.S.: Miami.

Called out specifically on “Miami Lakes,” which rides a smoky synth line that wouldn’t be out of place in a club scene from Miami Vice, the general vibe of the album is indebted to the city of neon lights; dance pop that feels transplanted from past decades is spliced with a definite island influence to create something that, while not wholly original, takes root in your brain and refuses to let up. On “Fiebre Tropical,” Cordova’s vocals recall MIA, if Maya started dabbling in ambient and trance using wood percussion and electric piano. Album closer (and highlight) “Bright Young Light Pt. 2” starts off with the sort of church organ synth that Lady Gaga has fancied lately before settling into an 8-bit club groove.

Madge is present elsewhere; “Domingo De Gloria” is reminiscent of her “Frozen” phase, but more uptemp, and this is meant as a high compliment. Even when “Grito De Lares (Ridox)” brings to mind Ace of Base, Cordova and Kirkland manage to take the derivative and use it as a mere jumping point for a pastiche of essential dance music. Even their mellower tracks (“Dipsi Daiver” dabbles in trance with shades of ’90s electro, while “I Came For You” manages to conjure up a techno version of Flock of Seagulls’ “I Ran”) still thrum with a vibrant energy, one which will carry ChuCha Santamaria Y Usted as far as they want to go.