(CD - Other Music Recording Company #OM 0192)

Review by James Christopher Monger

The sophomore studio long player from the Brazilian psych-pop outfit led by longtime friends Fernando “Dino” Almeida and Benke Ferraz, Manual continues to mine classic '60s Tropicalia and liquid-light show neo-psychedelia, but with a more contemporary flair. What's changed since 2013's excellent As Plantas Que Curam is that the band is no longer just Almeida and Ferraz conjuring up the ghost of Os Mutantes in their pieced-together basement studio. Fleshed-out and road-tested, the 2015 version of Boogarins is a well-oiled, though no less inventive machine. Manual is the sound of a band in complete control of its unapologetically retro vision, and while the Os Mutantes comparisons are apt, Boogarins lean harder on the pop end of the psych-pop spectrum, with artists like Lo Borges, Marcos Valle, and Caetano Veloso providing a better point of juxtaposition. Significantly less lo-fi than their home-recorded debut, the bulk of the tracks were recorded to tape at Jorge Explosion's Estudio Circo Perrotti in Gijón, Spain, but the band applied the flourishes and finishing touches at home. Manual floats effortlessly from song to song, skillfully pairing summery, major seventh-heavy regional pop motifs with guitar-driven classic rock, with highlights arriving via the knotty "Avalanche," the Sabbath-kissed "Tempo," and the intoxicating "6000 Dias," the latter of which comes off like a breezy Brazilian take on Cornershop's "Brimful of Asha." The back-end of the record is dominated by a trio of evocative mood pieces that straddle the line between the harmony-laden mountain folk of Fleet Foxes and Abraxas-era Santana, with the sparse, guitar and vocal-led "Auchma" closing things out on a melancholic note, but Manual elevates more often than it wallows, and most importantly, it never fails to surprise or entertain.

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