When Black Pumas made their self-titled debut in 2019, the Austin-bred duo set off a reaction almost as combustible and rapturous as their music itself. Along with earning a career total of seven Grammy Award nominations (including Album Of The Year) and winning praise from leading outlets like Pitchfork and Rolling Stone, singer/songwriter Eric Burton and guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada achieved massive success as a live act, touring large theaters all over Europe and North and South America and delivering a transcendent show Burton aptly refers to as “electric church.” As they set to work on their highly awaited sophomore album, the band broadened their palette to include a dazzling expanse of musical forms: heavenly hybrids of soul and symphonic pop, mind-bending excursions into jazz-funk and psychedelia, starry-eyed love songs that feel dropped down from the cosmos. Wilder and weirder and more extravagantly composed than its predecessor, Chronicles of a Diamond arrives as the fullest expression yet of Black Pumas’ frenetic creativity and limitless vision.
In creating the follow-up to one of the most celebrated debuts in recent years, Black Pumas made a point of tuning out any sense of anticipation from the outside world. “I knew the first record was good when we finished it, but I had no idea people would respond like they did,” says Quesada. “This time around there was a lot of pressure and expectation that we hadn’t felt before, which was overwhelming at times, but we did our best to tune that out and focus on trusting ourselves like we always have.” As a result, Chronicles of a Diamond wholly echoes an essential intention behind its creation. “More than anything I wanted to make something we’d be thrilled to play live 200 days a year,” says Burton. “I wanted to be able to laugh, cry, bob my head, do the thing: it was all very much a selfish endeavor.”
Like Black Pumas, Chronicles of a Diamond once again harnesses the lightning-in-a-bottle chemistry between Burton (a self-taught musician who got his start busking on beaches and subway platforms in his native Los Angeles) and Quesada (a Grammy Award winner whose background includes playing in Latin-funk orchestra Grupo Fantasma and accompanying legendary artists like Prince). Produced by Quesada and primarily mixed by six-time Grammy Award winner Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes, The War on Drugs), the ten-song LP finds Burton taking the role of co-producer and infusing his free-spirited musicality into every track. Although Black Pumas made much of the album at Quesada’s own Electric Deluxe Recorders in Austin, Chronicles of a Diamond also came to life in such far-flung cities as Amsterdam and Mexico City and San Francisco, with their longtime band joining in to shape the album’s explosive yet artfully crafted sound. “On the first record my goal was to make something that felt modern but without using any loops or programming or editing of any kind—everything was completely live,” says Quesada. “With this record, we threw out all those rules and created something that’s very much a studio album but also captures that crazy energy that happens in the live show.”