Two years ago Sao Paulo-based sextet Garotas Suecas began making the rounds stateside and causing a blogosphere hullabaloo. Like Johnny Appleseed, the band traveled from city to city planting manic dance parties instead of tree seeds. The group may have seemed anonymous in the sea of rock bands that can shake up a bag of tail feathers, but Garotas Suecas earned brownie points for being Brazilian (insert exotic references and Tropicalia comparisons) and having such a cute name (yes, that name actually translates to “Swedish Girls”). Needless to say, there has been interest.
In the traditional music paradigm, the release of a band’s first full-length marks an arrival of sorts. Never mind the increasing consumption of music on a per bite/byte level, not a per album level. A full album still represents a stepping stone in a musician or band’s career, at least in the industry’s opinion. And never mind the comparatively higher profitability of touring versus recording, especially as the group returns to the States again this fall to tear up more dance floors. An album is what we have been waiting for, and Escaldante Banda is what we are getting.
So, why then does Escaldante Banda only call to mind two questions. The first: Where was this record earlier this summer? Here is a band that writes music tailor-made for the summer. The tempo, the sentiment and the patchwork funk of a song like “Tudo Bem” begs to be heard in the heat. Southern hemisphere residents will get a chance to let the record marinate for a couple months after its September release before unveiling it along with their summer bodies. But us blokes up north will have to wait another year.
And the second: Where was this record last year when Carrie Brownstein wrote her glowing review for NPR (“Garotas Suecas is more revelation than resurrection”)? Not to give Ms. Brownstein too much credit, but her enthusiasm best summarized the common audience response to the band during the past couple years. To be fair, the group has released three EPs and a 7-inch to date, and its heretofore-written material fits those shorter formats. However, there is only so many times a listener can put burners like “Eu” and “Bugalu” (or “Codinome Dinamite”) on repeat.
Both questions point to the time-sensitive nature of Escaldante Banda. The album is a capsule of mellow grooves and sunshine sentiments best spun as wallpaper fun when the homies are over and the grill is going or when the pangs of nostalgia from a past show hit hard. “Não Se Perca” jingles pleasantly and “Você Não é Tudo Isso Meu Bem” jangles with the best Grand Funk Railroad cruising jams. The enclosed funk dips just below the surface, but avoids going knee deep. Garotas Suecas makes some artistic headway by adding welcome horn arrangements on a handful of numbers (“O Rogue,” “Ninguem Mandou”) and bringing the group’s average tempos down to a roller-rink-worthy <100 b.p.m. However, Escaldante Banda is meant to be heard today and not-thought-on-too-much tomorrow. Hardly a bad thing, because the album is a welcome reminder: It’s time to kick off those flip-flops and get ready to dance with them at the club again.