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Sunshine Barato

(None; US: 5 Oct 2004; UK: Available as import)

Wasted Times, Rainbows and Sunshine

You are powerless against Mosquitos. Put away the myriad of defense mechanisms you have honed to combat uninvited positivity; they will not help you here. Your scowl of hardened cynicism, those righteous scoffs: both have earned you some serious indie street cred, and both are literally meaningless when staring down Mosquitos. Go ahead, try it. The façade will crumble. You’ll smile, you’ll dance, you’ll get downright giddy. Believe it.

Something as basic as a little rain is cause for ecstatic celebration in the world of Mosquitos. One drop of the band’s new record Sunshine Barato (translation: “cheap sunshine”), and you’ll sing the praises of such uncomplicated pleasures. Mosquitos are a delectable slice of the good stuff, a seamless marriage of stately bossa nova and skittish indie pop. Brazilian chanteuse Juju Stulbach and her New York City companions—vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Chris Root and keyboardist Jon Marshall Smith—mix and match genres from their respective musical upbringings. The result is deliriously decadent: music that encompasses, envelops, and embraces everything it touches. The band’s cheery simplicity is so disarming, even the grouchiest pessimist can’t ignore its allure.

Sunshine Barato is a quick and engaging listen, a rapid succession of pop concoctions with nary a clunker in the bunch. There’s a dizzying flurry of bossa nova guitar palpitations and keen melodic sense in “Flood” and the title track. The reflective exotica of “Vagalume” and “Xixizinho No Oceano” are offset by the sugar-dipped pop confections “Blue Heart” and “Shooting Stars”. From the gritty plasticine blooze of “Domesticada” to the expansive horizons of the piano-driven “Free as Love”, from the Who emulation that rises from “The End Ing…” to the jubilant hand percussion and seventh note slides in “Dream Awake”, Sunshine Barato is constantly emitting contagious vibes. To resist its sunny temptations would be a flagrant act of humbling futility. To quote “Free as Love”, Mosquitos “like to see the beauty in everything, something in everybody”. Who can argue with that?

Mosquitos’ not-so-secret weapon is Stulbach’s voice: wispy, inviting, a decanter of intoxicating secrets. It’s a perfect foil to Root’s Wayne Coyne-inspired inflections. She sings the majority of her lines in Portuguese, and while I’m regrettably not able to understand the beautiful language, it’s her romantic delivery that counts. I’d safely bet that the Portuguese words don’t stray far from their English counterparts. While I normally wouldn’t defend naïvely sweet and direct fare like “I’m lying awake and you’re here in my bed / And my heart belongs to you” or “Your tired eyes under the blue skies don’t go together anymore” (not to mention the Yoda-like stylings of “Soon is coming the rain”), they seem unabashedly apt to Mosquitos’ blissed-out sound.

“Summer is over, but we’re not going anywhere,” Stulbach sings sweetly in the sober closing tune “27 Degrees”. “We’re just waiting for the sunshine to come back again.” It’s a sentiment easily agreed upon, even by those of us who loathe summer’s tyrannical reign. The good news is that as you shift from season to season, you never have to lose that summer feeling when Sunshine Barato is on the stereo.

Zeth Lundy has been writing for PopMatters since 2004. He is the author of Songs in the Key of Life (Continuum, 2007), and has contributed to the Boston Phoenix, Metro Boston, and The Oxford American. He lives in Boston.

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