This Norwegian singer-songwriter is poised to take over the world, one similarly named album at a time.
Nicolas Pablo Muñoz, better known as Boy Pablo by his adoring international fans, has had a crazy year. After blowing up when the music video for his song “Everytime” cracked the Youtube algorithm and went viral, getting called out for being a “Mac DeMarco copy,” and touring around the world, the Norwegian singer-songwriter has a new album out, entitled Soy Pablo. After releasing his debut EP, Roy Pablo, in May 2017 (Soy Pablo, Roy Pablo, Boy Pablo…that’s gonna be tricky.), Muñoz was quiet for a while. Then, he returned with hit single “Losing You” this past March, followed by “Sick Feeling” in June, both of which feature on the new seven-track album. And it’s safe to say Pablo has a hit record in his hands.
I saw Pablo and his band (Gabriel on lead guitar, Henrik on bass, Sigmund on drums, and Eric on keys) this summer at the Middle East in Boston. On a sweaty July evening, Pablo and his band lit up the tiny venue with crazy, spontaneous energy. Eric actually took his shirt off during the song “t-shirt” (taking Pablo’s lyrics “and my t-shirt is now useless” pretty seriously), Gabriel ripped solos behind his head, and the entire group included a rendition of Starland Vocal Band’s “Afternoon Delight” (the Anchorman song) in their set. I could be wrong, but I believe they played every song off of Soy Pablo during their set, so it’s safe to say the new album possesses the same boppy-ness as the previous record. During their performance, every band member on stage, especially Pablo himself, was as surprised at the reaction of the crowd as the crazy teenage fans were excited to see his smiling face.
Despite newfound success, Pablo and his bandmates remain humble, relaxed guys: they’re a group of dudes you just want to kick it with. It’s clear that they have fun and love what they do. You might not know that they packed around ten people into a tiny white van for their 40+ show North American tour. As I waited in line prior to the show, Gabriel passed in and out of the crowd, accessing the van to grab stuff out of his suitcase, all the while exchanging grins and waves with gawking fans. Their lives may not yet be as lavish as some of their musical peers, but nothing can stop Pablo and his friends from loving every second of their rise to fame.
(A photo I took at Boy Pablo’s July 8th concert at the Middle East.)
Pablo has tweaked his songwriting in some aspects, but, for the most part, Soy Pablo seems like a continuation of Roy Pablo—and, given how great his first album was, there’s nothing wrong with that. Some are quick to criticize Pablo’s somewhat programmatic songwriting style or overly simplistic lyrics (English isn’t even his first language; give him a break!). If anything, I think Pablo has only diversified his sound, incorporating new guitar effects, synth sounds, complex, syncopated drums, and more into this new album.
While Pablo definitely draws from the “Mac DeMarco sound” with his effervescent chord progressions, jangly guitar leads, and minimalist lyrics, the release of Soy Pablo indicates an evolution of his sound. Pablo is continuing to come into his personal tone, which he has developed into a unique style of indie pop-rock with a serious 80s pop influence. Pablo has been cited as taking influence from artists like the Beatles and the Beach Boys, and, whether intentional or not, many of his new songs are reminiscent of 80s icons like Echo and the Bunnymen, Simple Minds, Tears for Fears, and the Human League.
Every song off the new LP carries the same carefree effervescence as the previous record. “Feeling Lonely,” the first cut on the album, stands out with the same play-on-repeat catchiness of “Everytime” that made Muñoz so wildly popular. The song bounces between Pablo’s silky-smooth vocals and the infectious guitar riff, creating one of the catchiest tunes on the record. “t-shirt” begins as a glimpse into youthful uncertainty, but smoothly transitions into a passionate ballad interlaced with wavy, shimmering chords and sweet vocal harmonization. The album finishes with “tkm,” a track driven by an 80s-esque guitar melody; it feels like a song that’d play in a slow-dance prom scene in a John Hughes movie (I don’t really know, because I didn’t grow up in the 80s—I’m just projecting).
With improved engineering prowess thanks to close collaborator Erik Thorsheim, his boisterous band in tow, and a penchant for wooing audiences around the globe, Boy Pablo has a bright future ahead of him. Soy Pablo may only be seven tracks, but that’s all Pablo needs to win you over. One listen and you’ll be hooked.
Listen to Soy Pablo here.