- Dana Hinkson
The Soundtrack to Your Badass Dreams Starts With Nathy Peluso’s Calambre
In the pivotal year of 2020, Argentinian artist Nathy Peluso would release her debut studio album “Calambre,” or “Electric Shock” when translated from Spanish. Peluso disclosed the reasoning for the name to Atwood Magazine, stating that “[T]his record has a strong energy that runs across you…and I wanted to cause shocks when people listen to it. I want people to give themselves over to [the music’s] electricity.” From my experience, this high-vibrational album was true to its name. The current of her lyrics, voice and beats coursed through me. Some moments calmed me or gave me chills; others filled me with kinetic energy. Each song easily falls into individual genres, such as dancehall, salsa and R&B, and shows Peluso’s own individuality and impressive range. Together as an album, these genres are the makings of something cinematic.
After listening to “Calambre,” I found that I had subconsciously directed a film in my mind. It was about a drug dealer who sold empathy in pill form. Ironically, after taking on a whirlwind romance, the dealer is left contemplating an apathetic life. The first song, “CELEBRÉ,” an upbeat dancehall number that embraces Peluso’s chaotic success journey, thrusted me into a dimly lit discotech named Paradiso. Colorful, shimmering bodies, high on empathy, danced, flipped and wined away their wounds from the invisible wars outside.
The third song, “BUENOS AIRES,” was an introspective stream of consciousness that sounded like a stripped-down version of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “You Can’t Hide Love.” Here, Peluso effortlessly allows us into her universe as she ponders yearning, freedom and time. At the sound of dreamy keys, steady drums and the tranquil strength of her voice, I felt my body loosen. When I gave into the song, I was swaying to the beat and cooking silently, allowing “BUENOS AIRES” and my sizzling pans to harmonize deliciously. This song revealed the dealer to my imagination. From an apartment across the street, the dealer watched Paradiso close at the break of dawn. Dressed in their lover’s clothes, they lived Peluso’s lyrics as if they were “fumando sola en el balcón” orr smoking alone on the balcony.
When I reached “AGARRATE,” the album’s last song, I had officially hit the dougie, dropped it like it was hot a few times and cried. Now was the time to headbang. The first verse is executed with classic Peluso melodrama as she laments over a toxic romance’s end with only a bandoneon to accompany her. However, before I could express any sympathy, I was hit with boom-bap fury; a musical scoff to any pity toward her. From the second verse to the end is a wicked tongue lashing at an ex-lover with harsh lines like “Hijo de puta, flaco, ¿cómo sos tan despiadado?” (“You skinny motherfucker, why are you so cruel?”)
Each lyrical blow had the film reels in my head spinning, playing the last dreamy scenes. In their bedroom, the dealer underwent an emotional rollercoaster after their venomous break-up, ranging from melancholia to scalding egomania. In the end, the dealer breathed shallowly at their running bathroom sink with their entire supply of empathy next to it. Would the dealer destroy the empathy out of apathy? Could they bear the idea of hurting another day? It seems that the answer, or maybe an even better daydream film, is up to you. “Calambre”can be found on all music streaming platforms, just waiting to send sparks of creativity your way.