photo by Holland Brown
Maria Usbeck just shared “Nostalgia,” the second single from her sophomore album Envejeciendo and follow up to the album’s praised first single “Amor Anciano.” Spanish for “aging,” Envejeciendo is a concept album exploring the universal obsession with youth and our preoccupation with growing older, and available August 16 via Cascine.
Told with humor and tenderness, the album is an eccentric collection of dreamlike pop songs, sung in a mix of English and Spanish. The Ecuador-born, NYC-based musician tells Gorilla vs Bear, “Nostalgia is about the moment when you slowly start realizing that you miss everything that was around you at a certain point in life. The music, the people, all of it. Feeling more and more out of touch with what’s currently popular.”
Hear “Nostalgia” here
Today, Usbeck also announces her Album Release Show, set for Brooklyn’s The Sultan Room at The Turk’s Inn on Wednesday, September 4. More info and tickets can be found HERE.
The tracks on Envejeciendo are anchored in the Usbeck’s personal experiences with adulthood. After recently forcing herself out of a depressive, aging-induced slump, Usbeck was determined to have fun with the subject matter. The album is peppered with personal anecdotes and nods to her firsthand fieldwork into the aging process.
Particularly moving are the samples of a recorded interview with Usbeck’s late Ecuadorian grandmother, who speaks animatedly about her girlhood suitors and imagines what her life could have been had she married someone else. It’s this tone of nostalgic joy, coexisting with curiosity for futures both impossible and unrealized, that runs throughout Envejeciendo. Pre-order the album here: https://ffm.to/envejeciendo.
For Usbeck, even cloudier subject matter like elderliness and death is rife with humor and optimism, evidenced in her buoyant brand of sunshine-dappled pop music. Flanked by drum machines and mirror-polished production, Usbeck imagines a futuristic version of retirement homes that are more like “really fun hotels,” robot caretakers, and Brave New World-esque rejuvenation drugs.
Sonically, there are still ties to the Latin American textures of her childhood — the ones that informed her last album, the tropical bricolage Amparo — but here, those textures are filtered through the 80’s synth pop and early 90’s tech-house fixations of Usbeck’s teenage years.
Born in Quito, Ecuador, she moved to the states at 17 to attend art school, and found herself fronting the new wave band Selebrities. But, after five years of singing in English, the polyglot decided to let her mother tongue speak. Amparo, Usbeck’s 2016 Caroline Polacheck co-produced solo debut, was a return to her Latin American roots, sung almost entirely in Spanish, written and recorded across Ecuador, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Barcelona, Lisbon, Easter Island, Costa Rica, Florida, L.A. and her home in Brooklyn.