Dos Santos, “City of Mirrors”
By Richard Villegas · October 14, 2021 Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)

City of Mirrors, the fourth studio album from beloved Chicago five-piece Dos Santos, is a sweeping epic of Latin American rhythms and borderland poetry. Conceived while on tour and recorded between Los Angeles and Chicago, the album is a loving melange of tradition, spirituality, and odes to a Latinx diaspora in constant conflict. Dos Santos infuse musical proficiency with sober themes, like migration, on “Lejos de Ti” and the title track; narrating the broken embraces of loved ones left behind and the lonely exercise of sprouting roots in a new city. The barreling percussion and driving rhythm guitars of “Cages and Palaces” carry an even harsher message: “No hay salvación dentro de aquí” (“There is no salvation in here”). On the song, singer Alex Chavez astutely alludes to both the gilded cages undocumented immigrants exist within—in the heart of empire, but with restrictions and fear always looming—and the literal cages in which our government is still placing them.

While Dos Santos are unafraid of taking challenging looks at the Latinx experience, City of Mirrors is far from a tale of woe. “A Shot in The Dark” opens the record on layered chants and a minimalist drum that harken to ancestral rituals tethering us to homelands not forgotten. The spaghetti western-influenced “Alma Cósmica” speaks of soulful transcendence over chicha guitars and hypnotic percussion certain to spark a thousand dance circles. Finally, euphoric cuts “Palo Santo” and “Crown Me” take atmospheric cues from prog-rock, expanding Dos Santos’s already dizzying sonic arsenal and feeding their voracious curiosity for fresh intersections of tradition and innovation.

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