Andei Road

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Timbalada's recordings have gotten more complex and fully arranged each time out -- from nothing but massed samba-school drums on their debut CD to the occasional guitar or keyboard augmenting them on Cada Cabeça É Um Mundo. On Andei Road, they've reached a close-to-equal balance -- the forceful drums are still dominant, but not overbearing, and they're supplemented by full-band arrangements, several with a prominent horn section. There's more of a focus on vocals and a wider range of lead vocalists, but creative catalyst Carlinhos Brown hasn't lost his unerring pop instincts or knack for injecting all kinds of little sound tricks through the arrangements. Once again the wide musical range of the material is a surprise. "Mimar Você" works on a samba/reggae lilt, while "Jesus É Preto" is Chico Science-style rap and metal guitar maelstroms adapted to the Timbalada sound. "Fogo des Ancestres" starts with a twanging, berimbau country-train rhythm feel before tag-team lead vocals take over on top of descending guitar and horn lines and swirling keyboards. On the slower side, accordion gives "O.S." an old-world flavor and "Margarida Perfumada" features mournful violin against horn spurts and soulful vocals by Xexéu. His smooth, soaring voice handles the male love ballads, like "Quando Voc É Eu," where acoustic guitars supplant drums as the focal point, leaving the gruff Ninha to handle the whip-up-the-crowd samba-school chants like "Pé De Prédio." "Meio de Maré" adds a taste of soukous/zouk horns and guitar and "Bambeia" is a psych-yourself-up pre-parade chant -- you can bet that Mardi Gras Indian tribes in New Orleans or Trinidad steel drum groups have songs just like it. But just when you figure Timbalada is finishing with an all-out samba-school rush, they close with "Reisado de Massarandupió," a haunting female vocal outing that drifts off on some weird keyboard sounds. It's a tough call between Cada Cabeça É Um Mundo and Andei Road as a pick. The latter wins out because the fuller arrangements are probably more accessible to most listeners, even though the former's minimal extra touches ultimately may be more interesting.

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