Santos & Pecadores


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Bass-heavy, romantic, and somehow non-mandatory; on their sixth studio record, Portugal's alt-rock darlings offer an enjoyable take on U2's larger-than-life sound, but don't come close to matching the pomp and universal significance of Bono and the gang. Most songs on Energia mix sappiness with an urgent vibe, much like U2 usually do, though here the trick is pulled off by means of a steady bass drone, not delay-heavy guitar textures. Guitars are present, but keyboards get no less space in the mix, which is to say, both buzz in the background, shaping the mood but not distracting the attention from Olavo Bilac's soul-tinged vocals, appropriately dramatic and down to earth at once. He is no Pavarotti, but the slight huskiness in his voice adds to the charm. Still, the songs are a bit too simple for their own good -- not textured richly enough, not over the top emotionally, and without strong hooks to make them memorable. Tunes like the hit single "Tela" are nice while they play, but hard to remember once they're over, and have a tendency to blend together; only the title track more or less stands out, thanks to its bouncy disco overtones. There's also the slower ballad "O Céu Pode Esperar," which is right where you'd expect to find it, but, devoid of the bass, it fails to impress, and the bluesy "Nada" and the acoustic, or rather, piano-based closer, both of which come too late to change the overall impression. Which is, all things considered, not bad, as Energia has enough genuine emotion and some mildly memorable moments, which simply take some time to sink in; but still, Portuguese lyrics remain the main thing to differentiate Santos & Pecadores from many other similarly enjoyable, but unoriginal bands worldwide.

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