To get the point of Tribalistas you have to see past the hype. Sure, the three musicians who put this music together are huge stars in Braziland the world, at least the places where global music is appreciated. Marisa Monte has few peers when it comes to vocal music; her collaborators have made huge names of their own, Arnaldo Antunes as a pop hero in his own right and Carlinhos Brown as percussionist for everyone who matters. You might imagine that the triumvirate would crash and burn from its sheer weight. But, miraculously, it doesn't... and the result is a collection of memorable songs that taste great and go right down.
For the most part, anyway. The oddly dark "O Amor e Feio" ("Love Is Ugly") rides spare accompanimentunison guitar lines and tinkling piano swirlsalong with rustling percussion and odd noises, delivering a truly ugly message:
Love is dirty It smells like piss It puts the fear in you
But then, somehow, mere moments later, love redeems itself and becomes beautiful and full of grace. Obviously someone is in that very confused, self-indulgent adolescent state between love and resentment. The song works especially well because Monte's voice, smooth as butter, is juxtaposed alongside Antunes' rough, gutteral sound. Something like sandpaper paired with velvet, the combination somehow makes it all make sense. Sort of.
And that's true for most of the record. An exception is the torch ballad "É Você" ("It's You"), where Brown proves himself an effective tenor with smoky overtones, joining Monte while four guitars course through gently paced rhythms. But for the most part the contrast between the two main vocalists provides most of the color and drama. The very middle-of-the-road "Um A Um" ("One To One") plods a bit, but it's redeemed by the romantic strains of "Velha Infancia" ("Old Childhood") and the sing-song electro-samba of "Passe em Casa" ("Come By The House"), with just a bit of hip-hop tossed in the mix.
Admittedly the vocals are the centerpiece of Tribalistashow can that ever not be true when Marisa Monte is involved?but the rest of the music is an interesting amalgam of approaches. There's no particularly experimental edge or brilliant innovation here, but like most quality Brazilian pop, Tribalistas mixes things up well enough to steer clear of cliché. It's consistently warm and inviting, ceaselessly romantic, with no burn or aftertaste.
Track Listing: 1. Carnavalia (4:16)
2. Um a Um (2:41)
3. Velha Infancia (4:10)
4. Passe Em Casa (3:54)
5. O Amor E Feio (3:11)
6. � Voc� (2:51)
7. Carnalismo (2:36 )
8. Mary Cristo (3:00)
9. Anjo da Guarda (2:47)
10. L� de Longe (2:17)
11. Pecado � Lhe Deixar de Molho (2:58)
12. J� Sei Namorar (3:16)
13. Tribalistas (3:23)