Arthur Melo 2024
Photo: Artur Souza / Polvo Studio / Ballantyne Communications

Arthur Melo’s ‘Mirantes Emocionais’ Is Much More Than Vintage Vibes

Even at this young age, Arthur Melo has a careful hand and a grasp on what’s timely as he crafts dreamy new música popular brasileira on his luscious new LP.

Mirantes Emocionais
Arthur Melo
19 April 2024

Vintage vibes abound in Mirantes Emocionais, the latest album from young Belo-Horizontino composer Arthur Melo, but the heart of it, as its title (“emotional viewpoints”) suggests, is much more about conveying strong sentiments than simple retrophilia. Certainly, the sounds of 1960s bossa nova, 1970s psych rock and tropicália, and even a little 1980s post-punk are key to that; Melo harnesses nostalgia in powerful ways. Still, it seems a mistake to reduce Mirantes Emocionais to a rehashing of the past. Even at this young age, Melo has a careful hand and a grasp on what is timely as he crafts dreamy new MPB on his luscious new release.

Backed by band O Ministério da Consciência (including Melo, André Souza, and Lucca Noacco; Melo and Noacco perform voice, guitar, bass, and percussion, while all three take on synth duties), Melo makes for a compelling frontman. Just audible beneath the surface of his easy vocal delivery is the simmering hint of a more intense croon of which he is fully in control. It’s just one manifestation of the power and vulnerability that together pervade the album’s warm rhythms and wistful lyrics, but it’s an especially poignant one: Melo feels this music with his entire body.

That goes a long way toward giving Mirantes Emocionais its affective structure. The short introductory piece “Me Lastimaste” opens the record on a melodramatic note (“In my heart / There is no more pain / But I can’t feel happy”), and as moments of heartbreak and passion continue to unfold, it’s critical to be able to believe in Arthur Melo’s sincerity. The textures of his voice–the way it strains, seemingly intoxicated, through “Dama da Noite”, its hard and bitter edge on “Do Colostro ao Osso”–make this easy, demonstrating well the depth of Melo’s performance skills and his dedication to his own songwriting.

Musically, there’s enough variation on Mirantes Emocionais to make this an interesting album from start to finish. The guitar work on “Maré”, in combination with the haze of Melo’s voice, evokes aquatic, acoustic neo-folk; two minutes in, electronics (drum, keys, vocal processing) swell to the forefront and turn the whole mix into a cool piece of synthpop. “Álvaro Almeida” takes the synths up a notch with a hefty bassline. Single “Na Avenida com Benito” has a dark twang to it that brings it into new wave territory. The album’s final full-length track is “Saídas”, perhaps the most straightforward of the throwbacks, and it sways and swoons like any good João Gilberto piece but more crisp and contemporary. 

Mirantes Emocionais ends with “Aprendendo a Mentir”, a track less than a minute long and made of lively drums and vocals as haunting for their sense of distance as for the words they sing: “The truth sleeps / Somewhere / That both of us, my love, / Will never find.” Mirantes Emocionais is about subjectivity and the impossibility of escaping it or resolving emotional ambiguities. It flows, it wafts, and yet it stays grounded in Arthur Melo and his band’s concrete expressions of everyday pathos, placing them firmly in the ranks of contemporaries like Sessa and Tim Bernardes and artistic forebears like Caetano Veloso and Milton Nascimento.

RATING 8 / 10