Musician/producer Ana Frango Elétrico is one of the pivots of today’s kaleidoscopic Rio scene, who over the last few years has helped power the resurgence of Música Popular Brasileira (MPB). As if working with the mercurial Dora Morelenbaum or the sassy Bala Desejo wasn’t enough, Ana has been steadily crafting solo work of parallel quality and distinction. The emotionally energised balladry of 2019’s ‘Little Electric Chicken Heart’ oozed with classic bossa and alt-pop aromas, claiming a grammy nomination itself for its sumptuous spread, while the 2020 singles (‘Mama Planta Baby‘ and ‘Mulher Homem Bicho‘) kept up the creative fizz. So the release of their new solo album ‘Me Chama De Gato Que Eu Sou Sua’ via Mr Bongo was always likely to stir things up and more. It arrives with a swirl of confidence, out-there honesty and an unashamed delight in the pop’s immediacy.
Opening cut, the slippery disco-funking Electric Fish, sets the agenda without holding back. It’s a shoulder rolling cut of bass stomps and slinky guitar chops, shifting between 80’s and 90’s shapes on a twirling mirror ball of pop styling. As the horn lines go pizzaz and the backing vocals coo, Ana Frango Elétrico’s vital voice skips between sweet and strong, soft and sultry, in a heady spin of ‘cigarettes’, ‘tobacco smoke’ and yes ‘electric fish’. A surreal, sensual nu-bossa banger that arrives dancefloor ready but with a fine song at its heart. The same can be said about the album closer Dr. Sabe Tudo, a tune that may trace back to its Dilermando Reis/acoustic guitar heritage but here builds on Rubinho Jacobina’s decade’s forgotten raw disco gem. Here Ana Frango Elétrico’s version keeps the authentic hustle but soon bursts into more than a slick disco whisk with a lush arrangement, big on super-glued brass and silky vocal layers.
Such sublimely crafted, well-oiled locomotion threads through the whole of ‘Me Chama De Gato Que Eu Sou Sua’. The prime bossa-funk of Dela pairs those scissored Seu Jorge guitar chops with woozy synths, warm horns and dreamy vocal sighs, even splicing in percussionist Joca’s brisk rap without a mis-step. More surprising but equally infectious is Debaixo do Pano’s bumping electro-vamp. A version of Sophia Chablau’s punchy funk-rock original, this new take ups the glitz as the bass synth pumps, drum progs whip and a raucous sax let’s rip. Yes, Rio swingbeat has arrived…
It’s fundamental that the rich arrangements and generous beats of dance music are embedded so strongly in ‘Me Chama De Gato Que Eu Sou Sua’. The album, a powerful statement of non-binary pride, celebrates this source of boundless creativity and personalises it, which in Ana’s words involves “showing, in means of sound, understandings and feelings about queer love, subjectively exposing myself ”. Such a forthright approach and emotional risk taking gives this release its unbridled spirit. The vibrant Boy of Stranger Things captures that energy with characteristic Ana Frango Elétrico invention. Their spikey vocal, that can purr and yowl effortlessly in the same breath, jibes and snipes with relish as a jaunty mesh of classic soul, swirly organ and light step funk provides the bounce. Lyrically sharp, witty and direct, ‘I’m the boy of stranger things/I’m not the girl that you think’ is a hook that hits.
‘Me Chama De Gato Que Eu Sou Sua’ also keeps you on your toes with the lo-fi latitude of Coisa Maluca, co-written with alt-indie maverick and label mate Vovô Bebê. The drum machine blips and bops, the guitar wobbles and chimes while the chorus singers coo back to Ana’s silky patter, sneaking in an ironic wink to these bubblegum vibes. The avant pop connection also ripples through the relaxed lounge cool of Let’s Go Before Again, an instrumental that shifts the sixties soundtrack to a new beach location.
What’s striking about Ana Frango Elétrico’s new music is that despite the giddy range of reference points, influences and re-imaginings there’s no zig-zag wandering going on. The whole album glides along on a frictionless path paved by an astute ear and attention to detail or as they describe it “Going back, getting beyond … testing the limits of organic sounds”. Such ambition is captured in big ballads that complete the ‘Me Chama De Gato Que Eu Sou Sua’ menu. Nuvem Vermelha drifts with an easy listening confidence between understated samba pop and swooning string driven melodrama, while Insista em Mim twirls around finger clicking classic soul and full scale Arthur Verocai orchestral flourish (with a touch of Philly at the right time).
Even classier perhaps Camelo Azul sees Ana’s vocal sashay amongst some flutey, bluesy big band swing with such poise that you just melt into the tune. It’s that voice which really shines throughout this tremendous sparkling release, whimsical and reflective, quirky and quizzical, fiery, feisty and talking to you. Ana Frango Elétrico sings from a place that’s not diva derived but classically pop and they relish the freedom that brings. Speaking out, telling truths, breaking stereotypes, like the best MPB ‘Me Chama De Gato Que Eu Sou Sua’ does all those things with style, flare and ingenuity.
Get your copy of ‘Me Chama De Gato Que Eu Sou Sua ‘ by Ana Frango Elétrico from your local record store or direct from Mr Bongo HERE