By DAN MACINTOSH
Let’s Make Love is Brazilian Girls’ first album in around a decade, but if you’re anything like me, this New York dance-pop act sort of snuck past you. (Such is one of the downsides to the internet’s promise of an ‘all access pass,’ so to speak, to new music; there’s just too much recorded music for any one individual to take in).
However, once you fully focus your attention on the quartet’s music, it’s impossible to ignore. And it is singer Sabina Sciubba that first grabs and holds your attention with a G.I. Joe-like kung fu grip. Sciubba sings with a low, come hither exotic vocal style, as she sucks you joyfully into her vortex.
There are, by the way, no born-Brazilians in the band and there’s only one girl. And while the group’s music generally follows various dance strains, this 13-track album is far more eclectic than such a generalized description might lead you to believe. For instance, one called “Salve” is a relaxed, day at the beach slow burn, complete with vintage soul horns.
Also, the album’s title track is a driving, new wave rocker, with a group focal chorus reminiscent of Modern English’s wonderful one hit “Melt with You.” And when they sing “Let’s Make Love” for the chorus, it’s a command, not an invitation.
Of its dance tracks, “Woman in the Red” stands out most. It begins with creepy synth sounds, before going into a more robust, deeper synth groove. These same creepy electronic elements continue throughout the rest of the track as a sort of spooky undercurrent. It’s lyrics, such as the line, “I have seven children sleeping in golden beds,” may not make a lot of immediate sense. But no matter, it contains a hook that can’t miss and digs in deep.
“Balla” steps to a slightly tropical groove, as Sciubba sighs and swoons while watching a sexy dancer, while “The Critic” brings back fond memories of Talking Heads’ anxious 70s/80s funk experiments.
Many times, when Sciubba sings, she sounds like a diva-actress posing and finding her light. “You dropped me like a wet umbrella,” she sneers during “We Stopped.” “It was not a very elegant move,” she then adds. Even though this is a breakup song, of sorts, and Sciubba is obviously hurt, she nevertheless sounds fully in control. One can break her heart – or so it seems — but will never fully break her.
Talking Heads are a good reference point for fans new to Brazilian Girls music because like David Byrne’s breakthrough outfit, Sciubba and cohorts know well how to mix and match smarts with irresistible grooves. In fact, most everybody will enjoy singing out the title track’s decisive chorus – apart, of course, from the possible exception of Harvey Weinstein.