Arts & Entertainment

ARTIST REVIEW: The Marías: Velvety smooth, just the right amount of spice

Puerto Rican psychedelic soul and alternative pop band The Marías thrives in the subtle seduction instigated by their music.  

As a Puerto Rican writer, I feel it is my responsibility to share the richness of my culture with my readers here at The Ledger. Previously, we had touched on perhaps the most popular Puerto Rican musician of our time, Bad Bunny. But this time, I’ve decided to focus on an iconic group that has taken the island by storm these last few years, The Marías. 

An indie pop band located in Los Angeles California, The Marías is a new wave group that creates music in both English and Spanish. Named after lead singer María Zardoya, The Marías also consist of Josh Conway on drums, Edward James on keyboards, and Jesse Perlman on guitar. Conway and Zardoya front the band as the first two members, romantic partners and creators of the band’s concept.  

Zardoya was born in Puerto Rico and shows a softer side of the Puerto Rican spice that we are so accustomed to in our music. Her voice is mellow, naturally silky and seductive with minimal effort. This stylization very quickly branded The Marías as a psychedelic soul band, bringing back sounds that are not as prominent in modern and Puerto Rican pop music.  

Around 2017, the band had already been offered a deal to make music for television. But this didn’t come to fruition for unknown reasons. Nevertheless, the band decided to upload the EPs between 2017 and 2018: “Superclean Vol. I” & “Superclean Vol. II.” Though the reach of these EPs did not extend much beyond Puerto Rico at the time, the band had appealed to the alternative music fanbase that had been growing on the island.  

It was in 2022 that the band managed to reach peak success. The Marías signed a record deal with Atlantic Records and released their first full-length studio album, “Cinema.” Almost immediately, the album reached number 176 in the Billboards Top 200. In November of that same year, the band was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. From there, the band went on their first collaborative tour alongside multi-talented artist Halsey for her Love and Power tour. Here, The Marías promoted their “Cinema” album and gained an even larger fanbase spreading around the US.  

The Marías performing at The Marquis Theatre in 2019. Julio Enriquez via Wikimedia Commons

That same year, The Marías joined in on the massive Puerto Rican collaborative album, Bad Bunny’s “Un Verano Sin Ti.” “Otro Atardecer” became one of the most listened to songs of the album, once again bringing a softer sound to the absolutely perfect summer soundtracks that made up “Un Verano Sin Ti.” “Otro Atardecer” evokes the feeling of hopeless romance, missing an old love while watching the sunset and having a few beers. It truly encapsulates a feeling that we can all relate to, while also appreciating the beauty that our island has gifted us. 

Their most recent musical collaboration was alongside another fellow Puerto Rican artist, Tainy, on their most recent album “Data.” Here, The Marías embraced the classic reggaetón beat while still accentuating the impeccable fluidity of Zardoya’s voice and adding subtle synth-like backup instrumentals.  

The Marías create music that sort of ebbs and flows like the crashing waves of our island. It is a unique sound that has now become so appreciated by thousands of listeners across the world. Zardoya’s velvety voice only elevates her occasionally provocative lyricism, and meshes perfectly with the more experimental reggaetón scene that has been flourishing these past few years. I had the pleasure to catch The Marías live during Halsey’s Love and Power Tour, and let me confirm that this is an accurate description of their music. The audience was entranced, swaying back and forth, lovers embraced and taking in the beauty of the music, all while Zardoya had a blast on stage dancing alongside her partner, Conway.  

The Marías recently teased a new upcoming album titled “Submarine,” which has fans absolutely ecstatic, including myself. It seems like they are taking a new direction with a much grittier, experimental sound. The visuals so far are very reminiscent of some of FKA Twigs and Allie X’s work, which will probably mean we will be getting a lot more synth in this new album.  

As for recommendations, I suggest listening to the aforementioned “Otro Atardecer” and “Mañana.” But I’d also like to suggest some songs from their album and EPs: “Dakiti,” “Cariño,” “Over the Moon,” “Only in My Dreams,” “Déjate Llevar” and “Drip” and “Hush.” If you enjoy soft beats that you can relax to, music that you can silently vibe to in your room, The Marías are made for you.  

The Marías entire discography is out on all music streaming platforms.