Jesus Não Tem Dentes no País dos Banguelas

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Fresh off the breakout success of the thought-provoking masterpiece Cabeça Dinossauro, Brazil's Titãs tried to raise their creative stakes for its strangely named follow-up, 1987 follow-up Jesus Não Tem Dentes no País dos Banguelas (rough translation: "Jesus has no teeth in a country of toothless people"). A troubled next step, the album arguably exceeded expectations when it came to caustic social commentary and unconventional art rock song structures, but its calculated abrasiveness fell well short of replicating Cabeça Dinossauro's naturally organic genius. "Todo Mundo Quer Amor" opens the album with violently nerve-jolting cut-and-paste techniques topped by Arnaldo Antunes' harsh concrete poetry, making the arrival of first song proper "Comida" feel like a welcome reprieve from chaos...and you're only two songs in! It's this sense of uneasy tension, as well as an over-reliance on samples and programmed sounds, that make the first half of Jesus Não Tem Dentes such a tough gruel to digest. Blaring with dance-synth chord bursts, songs like "Corações e Mentes," "Diversão," and the title track are also victimized by the dated overproduction techniques common to the 1980s. Thankfully, Titãs rediscover rock & roll on the LP's second half, where it is gratefully reunited with their ever-captivating political invective; specifically Sérgio Britto's refreshingly straightforward "Desordem," Branco Mello's bristling "Armas Pra Lutar" and the provocative band effort "Lugar Nenhum." A pair of art rock compositions sung by bassist Nando Reis wrap up this difficult CD on the up: "Nome aos Bois" name-checks everyone from Hitler to Nixon over the course of its accusatory two minutes, and the bonus track "Violencia" morbidly lists various cultures' favored torture tactics. More measured in their experimentation, these final songs also set the tone for 1989's return to form with the genre-busting Ô Blésq Blom.

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