Os Mutantes

Fool Metal Jack

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When tropicalia legends Os Mutantes re-formed after over 30 years dormant in 2006, many fans of their classic early albums weren't sure what to expect. Absent was iconic singer Rita Lee, and by that point their legacy was so foundational to a lot of music that came afterwards, improving on it or even continuing it respectably seemed like a daunting task. However, the reunion shows went well and 2009's Haih...Ou Amortecedor..., an album that included collaborations with big names like Tom Zé and Jorge Ben, met with some positive reviews, though it was clear the band wasn't attempting to pick up where it left off. With Fool Metal Jack, the stylistically varied follow-up to Haih...Ou Amortecedor..., they continue the task of climbing out of the shadow of their own history, offering all manner of sounds puzzling, sublime, and still incredibly psychedelic. Oddball psych moments like the helium-voiced chorus and mosquito fuzz guitars of "Look Out" recall some of the band's late-'60s glory and weirdness, as do druggy synth touches on "Time and Space" and the acoustic mind trip "Valse LSD." Songs like these keep Os Mutantes cemented in the contemporary psych scene that their earlier records helped influence, and would sit nicely alongside tracks by Ghost, Six Organs of Admittance, or Acid Mothers Temple. Gentle tracks like "To Make It Beautiful" and "Eu Descrobi" blend soft psychedelic touches with elements like gliding Brazilian flute or distant electronics, creating a vivid sonic picture as bright as any of their earliest experiments. The album (which includes the most dabbling with the English language the usually exclusively Portuguese-singing act has ever engaged in) goes wrong only in its most far-reaching moments. Heavy-handed rock numbers like the almost sickeningly plodding antiwar sentiments of the title track and the downright befuddling Bob Marley-styled reggae flavoring of "Ganja Man" derail the otherwise cohesive album. Despite a few moments of inconsistency, Fool Metal Jack fares far better than most records from bands returning to form after decades of silence, and in its best moments highlights the brilliance of a group that never lost its unique voice.

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