Bonde do Rolê - Tropicalbacanal
Mad Decent: 2012
Mad Decent is a front-runner for first prize in the “labels that will sign any artist” category. Not in the sense that they’ll give some random artist a shot for no reason, but because it could be someone making music completely different from anything out right now, and Mad Decent would give it a go. This has given them power as tastemakers and innovators, allowing them to take chances on anything that seems fresh. Enter Bonde do Rolê stage right.
Bonde do Rolê are a trio from Brazil who fall somewhere in the grey area between punk, electro, hip-hop, beach rock, and psychedelic rock. You know, that area? Well, it might not really be a real area, but on their sophomore release Tropicalbacanal, Bonde do Rolê do their best to straddle it all. It’s a blistering ride through 12 tracks of ADHD youthful exuberance that would threaten to be a chore at points if it wasn’t so entertaining.
Tropicalbacanal is actually a perfect name for this album. It’s tropical at the core, bright and warm, really meant for the hot weather. Bacanal, or for us non-Portuguese speakers, bacchanal, meaning a riotous celebration. The title Tropicalbacanal suggests a beach-inspired drunken fiesta, and the album comes through to deliver that in an overflowing 29 minutes. It’s impossible to hear this album and not want to go outside. The sweeping guitar of “Dança” following the relentlessly catchy “Brazilian Boys” show Bonde do Rolê hitting the mark with exactly what they do best. Carefully placed guest features, notably Das Racist’s Kool A.D., help keep the album from falling into any kind of repetition, which would be difficult considering the albums short runtime.
It’s the back half of the album where Bonde misses the mark. “Banana Woman” finds the group pushing the boundaries of their humor to an extreme, taking it a little too far. “Baile Punk” featuring Mad Decent label buddies the Death Set is a punk burner that loses the carefree vibes that make the album so great. It’s difficult for a dud here and there to be that devastating, though, considering most tracks clock in just over two minutes long.
In a live show, Bonde do Rolê has inflatable condoms and bulls behind them. They dance with taco mascots, pour milk everywhere, and make-out with each other on stage. Tropicalbacanal is immediately enjoyable, fun, and actually really damn good at points. If you take this album too seriously, you’re missing the point entirely. They enthusiastically sing, “baby don’t deny it, you know you want to dance” on “Baby Don’t Deny It” before breaking into a guitar fueled dance party. If you do deny it, this album isn’t for you; then again you’re also probably lying to yourself. Tropicalbacanal is summer music, so don’t take it too seriously and enjoy it while the weather is still nice.