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Las Nubes’ “Tormentas Malsanas” and the Weight of Summer

Las Nubes’ sophomore album Tormentas Malsanas is made to be listened to in the summertime, though not in the way you may think. It’s not often that artists are able to capture the frequently overlooked anguish that can come with the stagnant and unforgiving heat of the summer. Even rarer still, that they can represent the feeling of spending those long, heat soaked days with nothing more to do than let your thoughts run in circles. Spirals that if left unattended can spin out into unpredictable storms. 

Intended to reflect the often turbulent and ever changing summers of Las Nubes’ Miami home base, Tormentas Malsanas translates to “unhealthy storms”. Through seismic displays of fuzzy dream pop and whirring shoegaze, bandmates Ale Campos and Emile Milgrim are able to convey this feeling of unrest in a way that is accessible to anyone, anywhere. The album’s grungy and distorted sonic influences root its story in both the past and present. It feels fresh, but also familiar somehow, in the way many summers tend to be a limbo of old and new, trapped between lingering memories and potential for more.

Image via Las Nubes

The ten track album takes listeners through several cycles of build up and chasing release. The album opener “Would Be“, gives us the first taste of the idea of warm, almost comfortable feelings opening up into something much heavier. Hypnotic waves of guitar paired with the soft choral repetition of the words “I know the more I give, the less I get back,” are suddenly spun into crunchy power chords and hard snare beats in a moment of whiplash. The words that began as musings have become a chant of dissatisfaction, of feeling stuck.

If the entirety of Tormentas Malsanas is a storm, then track four, the ten minute epic “Caricia”, is the eye of the hurricane. The song hums and buzzes in a moment of calm, but the feeling of unease remains. The familiar circling feels prominent in this track, even as the humming becomes a louder and angrier drone before cycling back to a hum once again. It’s clear the release hasn’t been found yet. It feels like a summer rain that doesn’t cut through the heat, it just makes it thicker and stickier. 

“The Weeks That Followed” puts a name to the idea of spiraling thoughts that seem to orbit this album. The notions of thoughts circling and reliving memories are what drive this song forward, along with the struggle to know when it’s time to move forward and embrace the possibility of change.

Image via Las Nubes

Tracks like “Canse” and “Drop In, Ya Freaks” feel less like a thought spiral and more like the unwinding of one, like a release has been found. Heavy and anthemic guitar fuzz along with steady rhythms guide us through the final moments of the album. These songs feel like they’d be best understood driving the backroads of your hometown with your windows down, letting all of the heat and anger wash away with the wind and rain. Where “Canse” is loud, boisterous, and full of kinetic energy, “Drop In, Ya Freaks” is reflective of the time gone by. It acknowledges that the storm has passed, and that even if more should arise, we’ve learned by now that they are impermanent.

In a summer that has already had it’s fair share of heat and storms, both literal and metaphorical, Tormentas Malsanas feels fit to be the soundtrack to a mind that’s very prone to spiral. The story it tells and energy it transmits feeds those tendencies to dwell in the heat, while also encouraging the listener to let go and move forward when the time is right.