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Brazilian Girls

Brazilian Girls Verve/Forecast

When Sabina Sciubba, the only woman in the New York group that calls itself Brazilian Girls (and, for the record, she's Italian, not Brazilian), sings on "Corner Store," "I love the music on the radio/And this is how it goes," you have to assume that the radio she's talking about is part crystal ball, because the instrumental break the band subsequently slips into combines hints of tango, a bit of rap, and a taste of drum and bass that morphs into something that sounds vaguely like Brazilian ska. It's probably not overstating the case to say Brazilian Girls is giving us a taste of what pop music is going to sound like by the middle of the 21st Century.

"Corner Store" sums up the charm of Brazilian Girls' eponymous debut and its uncanny ability to be all things to all people. The group drops cabaret, dub, samba, folk music, and more onto tracks that never sound forced or self-conscious. The sounds this band hears in its collective head inspire a global-minded groove with a generous intercontinental flavor. Like Sciubba, the multilinguistic lead singer, the other Brazilian Girls -- Didi Gutman, a keyboardist from Buenos Aires, Argentina; Californian bassist Jesse Murphy; and Kansas City drummer Aaron Johnson -- have all lived and played abroad, soaking up the international influences that color their music.

The ensemble bounces from "Pussy," a dancehall groove that combines raunch and class as Sciubba describes the ordeal of a pretty woman walking down a street filled with hustlers and drug dealers, to the straight-ahead disco pulse of "Dance till the Morning." There are sentimental cabaret ballads such as "Ships in the Night," which possesses a delirious, reverb-drenched vibraphone and Hawaiian guitar fills sampled by Gutman. On these slower, moody numbers, Sciubba's vocals are sincere, delivered without a trace of the irony that many bands use to mask anything that smacks of real feeling. Brazilian Girls doesn't shy away from emotion; even their most lighthearted melodies are sharp and soulful, which gives one hope for the future of romantic sentiment and genuine affection in pop music.

 
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