Brazilian Girls are one of the few bands who make music that could be played at an LCD Soundsystem after-party, a sexy Miami dance club, a challenging art exhibit, or of course, an import beer commercial. New York City, the band’s third LP, contains a little bit of everything and really stretches the talents and reach of the three piece band. The reason Brazilian Girls can be played almost anywhere is that the group is very unassuming.
What’s almost tongue-in-cheek is that the Brazilian Girls are actually New Yorkers. This means they’ve been playing around and been influenced by the indie-electronica acts from England who play New York regularly. So, for example, they throw in a little discordance here and there to show their indie cred, but also don’t shy away from electronic instrumentation. The lead singer of the band, Sabina Sciubba, was born in Rome and spent time throughout Europe in Paris and Germany. This means one thing: there will be songs to dance and get down to.
Speaking of Sabina Sciubba, she is the only “girl” in Brazilian Girls and she is not a girl either. She is a woman who exudes control and sex appeal, all while being accessible to anyone willing to listen. The band is willing to make hard edged songs with elements of rock and industrial music and Sciubba is not afraid to sing challenging and risqué lyrics. In addition, her time spent in Europe allows her to speak five different languages, which get used from song to song. So on any one song, there could be the German influence of Can and maybe some Bossa Nova from Spain. The next song after that might feature French lounge music, mixed with American house music. Altogether, the overall feeling of the album is a makeshift collection of music from around the world, stirred into a pot and brought out as some sort of erotic shaped cake, with a specialty martini on the side. You can tell my mind’s been working, huh?
The first track off the album is “St. Petersburg” and is a great opener by any standards. Featuring happy whistling, sparingly used throughout the song, and low bass and drums, the song is very pleasant to the ears and gradually builds up a finish that can only be described as a “floating off.” “Losing Myself”, the second track, is one of the highlight dance songs. Using organ and synth, the song is somewhat down and dirty in terms of dance music until the French lyrics come in to settle things down, but only a little. One of the stranger tracks on the album, “Berlin” uses traditional German folk music, ambient electronica, and changes in language to create a very circus/carnival atmosphere more akin to the more experimental songs of the 1970s.
The best section of New York City seems to be the back to back pairing of “Strangeboy”, followed by “Good Time.” “Strangeboy” starts off extremely slow and dark with Congo-style drums and sensual spoken word lyrics by Sciubba, eventually using some deep African sounds to add to the jungle feeling of the track. The buildup leads to the last minute or so when the horns intensify and some synth is added, that is until the song ends needing more. Thankfully, the first single off the album follows and it does not disappoint. “Good Time” is a happy song, telling the story of people who want to have a good time, all the time, and how they think they will achieve it. Brazilian Girls of course use lyrics, backup singing and strangely new sounds to let everyone know they just want to have a “good time all the time.”
Another standout track, “Internacional” belongs on a Michael Mann soundtrack. Leaning heavily on organ, percussion and filter effects, the song is a dance song clearly intended for a sweaty, sexy, digitally filmed nightclub. The lyrics of the song also feature a laundry list of city and country shout outs, so be on the lookout for your favorite locale. As for the rest of the tracks, they keep in the vein of multi-lingual, electronic tinged dance and lounge music with many of the tracks dipping heavily into jazz and soundscapes.
Overall, New York City is solid album for anyone looking to expand their musical geography. It features a vast selection of international sounds, a sexy vocalist, a certain edge people enjoy and a very entertaining dance sound throughout the album. Not everyone wants to attend (nor can they afford) after show parties, Miami dance clubs, or crazy art shows, but everyone can at least enjoy an imported beer and use their imagination. That’s always a good start.