Legião Urbana


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Legião Urbana's second album -- simply titled Dois -- may well be their most accessible and, in retrospect, their most disposable as well. Although the band's songwriting on Dois showed a greater consistency than the album's occasionally hesitant predecessor, their sense of creative direction seemed, if anything, even more scattered and insecure than before. Several numbers -- the lyrical "Daniel Na Cova Dos Leões," the muddled pro-union statement "Fábrica," and even the wonderfully bittersweet and regretful hit single "Tempo Perdido" -- were very guilty of wearing the band's English new wave influences quite glaringly on their sleeves, reshuffling and recombining instantly recognizable tricks of the trade (such as the Smiths' serpentine acoustic guitars; the Edge's syncopated, echoed electric shards; and the Banshees' synthetic-sounding percussion) to fit their needs. So too the likes of "Acrilic on Canvas" and "Andrea Doria," whose gentle swing and softly stated minor-key melodies positively screamed the Cure and, again, U2, albeit in more understated fashion, although other tracks -- notably the excellent "Quase Sem Querer" and "Índios" -- fared far better at synthesizing these influences into a more recognizably Brazilian rock framework. Still, listeners would be fooling themselves if they didn't admit the lingering presence of those Smiths tricks. Sticking out like a sore thumb, "Metrópole" was a forgettable and uncomfortable-sounding hard rocker that proved Legião were presently at a loss over how to incorporate their original punk roots into their present commercial position (solved by the following year's unselfconscious odds-and-sods triumph of Que País É Este); "Central do Brasil" was nothing more than an introductory interlude for "Tempo Perdido"; and the politically charged lyrics of "Plantas Em Baixo Do Aquário" are inexplicably camouflaged under a layer of art rock pretension and Dadaist delivery -- a rare instance of bandleader Renato Russo avoiding, rather than embracing, controversy. He finally snaps out of it with "Música Urbana 2" (a spare acoustic guitar blues that allows his elastic and muscular voice its only major showcase on Dois) and the unfettered classic "Eduardo e Monica," with its distinctly Brazilian form of talking folk-blues providing the ultimate canvas for Russo's storytelling abilities (here describing a romance between intellectual older woman and hapless young stud) -- it was a smash hit! In the end, such was Legião's affinity with their fans, these fans' reciprocal devotion to the band's catchy songs and earnest delivery (or perhaps ignorance of the original sources that inspired them), and, to be frank, the absence of too many significant challengers within their '80s generation, that most of the above-stated detractions mattered little in Legião's growing success.

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