How a Stranger Is Made LP by Luis Mojica
How a Stranger Is Made, the 2019 sophomore LP from Luis Mojica, begins out humbly with an easygoing, piano-led beat in “Insane” that, while only offering us a glimpse into the majestic melodies that await in the next ten songs, is enough to set the stage for everything we’re soon to encounter. The moodiness of the harmonies in this track carries over seamlessly into the eccentric “Shaman Food,” and though the elements of stranger seem to get all the stranger as we slip into the comforting sway of a plaintive “Invoked,” it becomes harder and harder to turn away from the stereo as this record begins to bind us in a tight sonic ribbonry presently unrivaled in the underground market this spring.
Luis Mojica continues to lay on the vocal harmonies as thick as he can in the simplistic piano tune “Moon Men,” but I don’t believe it’s until we hear him shed all aesthetical chains in “Cowboys” that we can begin to fully-comprehend just how off the rails he’s taking his creative approach in How a Stranger Is Made. Sexuality finds itself mashed into an almost esoteric context in the lyrics of these tracks, and for every familiar statement Mojica makes, it seems he goes out of his way to strike a counterbalance with the unordinary rhythm, tonality and texture that cushions his vocal. “De La Saint” and “Witch Love” are as far to the left of mainstream standards as I’ve heard this artist travel, and unsurprisingly to me, he wears the look they afford him better than any of us could have predicted he could.
“City Friends” is the most conventional track on this album, but it doesn’t feel underwhelming squeezed between “Witch Love” and the anti-cathartic “The Ranger” at all (the latter is absolutely my favorite song from the record). How a Stranger Is Made approaches its conclusion with dragging feet, throwing more and more riddles in our direction as we sink into the passionate throes of “Queen Song,” which admittedly took me a good five or six listens to break down critically. A serious fan could spend the whole of a weekend trying to decipher the layers of emotion that this LP contains, but even for the occasional audiophile, I think that what Mojica constructs over the course of these eleven songs is something far more captivating than anything you’ll find on the Top 40 is.
We reach the final curtain call in How a Stranger Is Made with the extended prog ballad “Stranger Song,” and in its six and a half minutes of play, I feel like the audience is brought full-circle to where we first began with “Insane.” At its core, Luis Mojica’s second studio album is a journey into the mind of a musician on the verge of going mad from a desperate desire to express himself, and though it’s one of the most involved listens that I’ve sat down with in the month of March, it’s an LP I plan on revisiting a number of times before summer gets started.