On the soundtrack Looking for Leonard, Mac McCaughan takes his "side project" Portastatic to levels beyond the scope of his main band, indie legends Superchunk. Looking for Leonard, a complete score for a Canadian indie film of the same name, continues McCaughan's fascination with Brazilian Tropicalia music of the late '60s and early '70s. This inspiration first yielded Portastatic's 2000 EP De Mel, De Melao, a record of covers of Brazilian pop giants such as Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and Os Mutantes. But, Looking for Leonard transports those South American stylings to an entirely vocals-free, instrumental album that tips its hat to Tropicalia while exploring the emotional and atmospheric range of a film score. The soft electric guitar and strings render "Looking for Leonard -- Theme" all bittersweet nostalgia and happy memories. "Luka's Theme" picks up the tone with meandering South American rhythms and wistful guitar lines. "Stealing Romance" could be the most uplifting one minute and 30 seconds of music you'll hear and "Sweethearts Organ Mix"'s pretty little organ melody is a throwback to emotive movie soundtracks of the '70s. The single appearance of a fuzzed-out, noisy guitar is in the song "Funeral Music," but this score is so cohesive that the crunchy lines don't change the genre of the music, just the feeling of it. Looking for Leonard ends with the rollicking "Sweethearts of the World," a feel-good jaunt that leaves the listener with the image of sunnier lands and travels across the sea. This album may be a film score, but it can easily stand all alone as music for moody days.
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AllMusic Review by Charles Spano