Mosquitos: self-titled

[24 May 2004]

By Jason Thompson

Suntan Lotion

Chances are good that you’ve already heard Mosquitos. If you’re living in the States and tuned into your TV sets regularly this past summer, you may have caught a quick spot of an ad for Bailey’s Irish Cream Minis. You know the one, people are lounging around someone’s front lawn in front of the garage drinking some minis while this exotic and lush tune plays in the background: “Dabadabadabadabadabadaba… ba ba” go the semi-words to a nice little beat, and then the ad is over.

Well, maybe you didn’t catch that one, but the name of the song used is “Boombox”, played by Mosquitos. It’s funny. This album was sent to me pre-release and that song caught my ear the very first time and I remember thinking to myself that it would be a great little tune to have as the background for something, maybe not commercials perhaps, but maybe a scene in a TV show or movie. After the Bailey’s ad aired, some other folks picked up the song and used it as well. Small world.

Mosquitos is one of the best albums of 2003 and easily the most relaxed and enjoyable. If you’re into the sounds of Brazil and artists like Jobim or songs such as “The Girl from Ipanema”, you’re guaranteed to love Mosquitos. It’s New York meets Brazil as Statesiders Jon Marshall and Chris Root team up with the lovely and honey-throated Juju Stulbach to create their own blend of Brazilian pop that has a few of its toes rooted in the rock. But not so much so that the project comes off as mere novelty. After hearing the music of Mosquitos, it’s hard to imagine a world without their beautiful sounds.

Unlike other groups, such as Lushy, who seem to have a one-note shtick going for them, dabbling in all things hip and French, Mosquitos pays true homage to past Brazilian sounds while putting a nice 2003 spin on it and not tarnishing it one bit. That means you’ll put this one on and be instantly transported to a samba-filled paradise without any of those new fangled trappings such as over production and a high-gloss coat getting in the way.

Though there are those funny hints of NYC bleeding through every now and then. The pretty “Forever Song”‘s intro sounds not unlike the Velvet Underground’s “Who Loves the Sun?” as the guitars chime away. But as soon as Juju starts singing, all visions of Lou Reed quickly dissolve (probably a good thing in this case). And yes, for the most part the lyrics on the songs here aren’t in English, but so what? If there had been English translations to the tunes, they’d undoubtedly run the risk of not being half as rhythmic or sultry, given that English is not one of the most melodic languages to roll off the tongue.

Some of the tunes are English-based, though. “Love Stew”, “Policeman”, “Next to Me”, and “Juju & Blue” all have some English thrown in. In these there are the funny little lines that ring out most profound in their simplistic innocence. “But love is like sand when you hold it in your hand” (from “Next to Me”), “He’s so far out that he fits right in” (from “Boombox”), and “Policeman, can I make a donation? / Can I get on a payment plan?” (from “Policeman”) are amusing observations in their own right. And it’s in “Policeman” and “Footsteps” where the rock takes a little more of a foothold. Indeed, “Policeman” is the most American pop sounding thing on the album, while “Footsteps” contains a lead guitar line that sinks right in before getting submerged in the fantastic exotica.

It’s hard not to fall in love with Mosquitos the first time you hear them. The music is so natural, the purity of the sound completely irresistible. Listening to this album is like truly taking a vacation from every other sort of music and sound that could be possibly filling the rest of your CD racks at the moment. This is one that will be played again and again without ever becoming stale. Mosquitos does indeed have a new/old sound worth visiting whenever possible. A beautiful work of art, this album should be picked up by any and all of those reading these words.

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