“We should all sleep more and sleep more together,”
Brazilian Girls frontwoman Sabina Sciubba says about the theme of “Pirates”, the first track of new album Let’s Make Love. It’s a shockingly gentle sentiment from a band that has always had a hip edge to it, but the group hasn’t softened with time so much as it has found a new way to fight back against the oppressive status quo. Let’s Make Love is filled with an unyielding blend of love, defiance, and fearless beats of every kind, all topped off with Sciubba’s incredible voice.
There’s a hint of Marlene Dietrich in the drama Sciubba brings to any given Brazilian Girls track. Often, that delivery is also a little jaded, but here, Sciubba strips away the façade. She is sometimes exhausted with current events, but never world-weary; she sparks instead of smolders. Sparse “Karaköy” is as plaintive a cry of longing as the group has ever put forth into the world (“Where did you go / When all I want is / To say your name / And hear you say mine?”), and downtempo “Sunny Days” brings simple bliss to the mix (“In my right mind / I can’t believe you’re mine”).
Sincerity shines through on the uptempo tracks, too; on “Pirates”, Sciubba sings, low and grounded between quick and dirty verses: “I count ’til five / We’re still alive… / Somehow we make it through the days like this one… / I don’t know how.” The harsh beats of “Go Out More Often” that follow belie a lyrical warmth as Sciubba pleads with a paramour to do more to celebrate their love.
It almost gets saccharine, at least by Brazilian Girls’ standards, but the heart is real, and the rhythms are still sharp. Dance track “Balla Balla” is a particular standout, with vintage big band sounds lying low in the background and Sciubba’s iconically understated sensuality at its peak. She sighs, she seduces, and she sings, airily, over the horns and handclaps of the album’s catchiest tune.
The quartet finds heavy inspiration in new wave sounds on several occasions. “Wild Wild Web” opens with indulgent synths; Sciubba sings a vocoder-enhanced message advocating moving beyond screen time and returning to the physical world, and she does so at Talking Heads levels of vocal exuberance. “Woman in the Red” improves on the retro influences, starting out dreamlike before the track gets positively dense with satisfying electronics.
A decade has passed since Brazilian Girls released Grammy-nominated
New York City, and much has changed in both the world at large and the Brazilian Girls’ musical outlook on it. Let’s Make Love lacks some of the intrigue and devil-may-care charm so essential to the group’s previous repertoire, but there is beauty and growth in the way hedonism has blossomed into a passion with a purpose. Here, that purpose is as simple as the classic-sounding rock of the title track (“Let’s make love / Forget about your worries / Let’s make love / Forget about the rest”), and the album is that much stronger for what it streamlines.