“El día libre de Polux” – Chini.png Album Review

Written by on April 15, 2023

By Rooy Aguirre

El día libre de Polux is the debut album from Chini.png, the solo project of Chilean artist María José Ayarza, formerly known for her work with the indie folk band Chini and The Technicians. Released on March 31st, 2023, the album showcases Ayarza’s growth as a musician, as she explores a delicate and intricate sound that incorporates elements of dream noise, folktronica, and atmospheric art rock.

Kicking off with an enchanting accomplishment of an opener, “Nanai,” El día libre de Polux immediately draws the listener in with its hypnotic synth melodies and percussive tones. This is followed by “Venenos,” an indie rock-infused track with shoegaze influences and fuzzy touches. The track “No midas las palabras!,” which serves as the album’s fourth single, highlights Ayarza’s evolution as a composer as she delivers a poignant anthemic development in the song’s lyrics, such as “Prefiero desplomarme a la cima del plomo / Que deslomarme y que otro se coma el lomo.”

Lyrically, the album is poetic and complex, with tracks like “Cinta blanca” and “Laurel” showcasing Ayarza’s impressive songwriting skills that successfully enriches the listener. Personally, I feel that her writing in “Laurel” is pretty significant. “Yo tenía una corona de laurel / Y me tenían prensándola después / Por cianuro para blanquear la piel / Devolvería esta corona de laurel,” which in English is “I had a laurel wreath / And they had me pressing it afterwards / For cyanide to whiten the skin / I would return this laurel wreath.” This offers  powerful commentary on the pressures of success and the need to conform to societal expectations. The image of the laurel wreath, traditionally worn as a symbol of triumph in Ancient Rome, is subverted by Ayarza’s lyrics, which suggest that success can come at a great cost. The reference to cyanide as a means of skin whitening highlights the dangerous lengths to which some individuals will go to conform to narrow beauty standards. Obviously, that is not to assume it may signify something completely different.

In “Yo misma,” the lyrics “”No sé cómo dejar / No sé cómo dejarme querer / Casi le digo qué hacer / Cuando me sentí mal” suggest that the person speaking has difficulty allowing themselves to be loved and establishing healthy boundaries in a relationship. The line “Pero siempre elijo el rencor / Yo misma me hice así” implies that the person has developed a defensive or resentful attitude due to past experiences, and may struggle to overcome this attitude even in situations where it is not necessary.

The album then develops a very percussive sound when “Loop” hits, with instances where voice notes appear, followed by guitars and an amazing breach of instrumental brilliance.

Bringing it back to fuzziness, “Arboles y pasarelas” is a great example of the ways that Chini develops her sound throughout the album, with this song dressing itself in distortion.

The album’s second single “✧Sofía✧,” released in September 2022, features a mesmerizing blend of shimmering bossa nova rhythms and ethereal vocals. It has lyrics that could represent the experience of identifying with one’s own body, and that their gender or gender identity may not be binary or traditionally feminine or masculine; that the body is a construction, and that there is something deeper or essential at the center of the person.

In “TONTO,” another standout track, her sound becomes hypnotized in electrifying cellos and emotional guitars.

One of the album’s highlights is “Punto de vista,” which features an appearance from Chilean indie icon Bronko Yotte, with the track blending gleeful beats with Chini’s dreamy soundscapes and Yotte’s introspective rap and lyrics.

Closing out the album is “Arranque,” a track that takes a different turn from the rest of the album. The beginning features a more ambience-influenced drone sound, and then it turns out to a melancholic and gloomy guitar.

Overall, El día libre de Polux is a marvelous debut from Chini.png, showcasing Ayarza’s evolution and versatility as a songwriter and musician, and the growing indie scene from Chile. As she brings a fresh sound, with her poetic lyrics, and emotional performances. Her debut establishes Chini.png as a rising star in the Latin American indie music scene – and we hope to listen to more from her in the future!

Photo from Amazon Music.

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