Home is a complex concept for Puerto Ricans. The island from which they hail is both part of the United States and not; as an unincorporated territory, its residents are citizens but can’t vote, can move freely between the island and the mainland yet are still seen as immigrants. Like many Puerto Ricans, Buscabulla’s Raquel Berrios and Luis Alfredo Del Valle left the island and made New York City their home, seeking opportunities otherwise unavailable to them. And they’re not alone; there are more Puerto Ricans in the greater New York area than in the capital of San Juan.
Berrios and Del Valle moved to New York City separately to pursue their dreams, met at a house show, formed a band (its name is Puerto Rican slang for “troublemaker”), and started a family. But while they made their lives in the city, their spirit never left Puerto Rico, and the first two Buscabulla EPs were colored with deep longing and existential displacements. Once a record deal gave them the cushion to make the leap, they left New York six months after Hurricane Maria had battered their home. As thousands of Puerto Ricans fled the ravaged island for the States, Berrios and Del Valle headed in the opposite direction, packing up their life and moving back with family in tow. Regresa is the story of that return. But the home they returned to was not the one they had left, nor were they the same people who had once absconded north for creative pursuits. Many of their close family and friends had left or passed away, and vulture capitalists had already descended, seeking “economic opportunity.” Recorded at the couple’s home and with additional production and mixing from Patrick Wimberly (Chairlift, MGMT, Solange, Blood Orange), the Spanish-language album is a smooth and experimental blend of synthy, indie dance-pop and percussive Latin beats. Through experimentation, Buscabulla have created a sound that’s entirely their own. You might not understand the lyrics of Regresa, but you’ll feel the meaning behind them.