Boogarins - Lucifernandis

06 Jun
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When you mock something, it's because you love it, helplessly and truly: No one understands this truth better than teenagers, particularly teenage boys. Fernando Almeida and Benke Ferraz of Boogarins were in high school when they recorded their debut, and they spend its duration lightly teasing every record in their collections, reproducing it note-perfect faithfully while tweaking its nose. Every stumbling drum fill, fuzz blurt, vocal affectation, and slightly detuned guitar chord on As Plantas Que Curam is the sound of two boys punching psych-pop in the arm, tipping its chair back with their feet because they're mad they can't stop thinking about it.

Their spirit remind you of another breakout 2013 band with a goofy name: The currently-beleaguered, possibly-shipwrecked Foxygen, whose still-great We Are The 21 Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic did a similar pirouette between mockery, pastiche, and loving tribute. Like Foxygen, the kids in Boogarins have spent several years in thrall to the sounds of 50-year-old records, and they have also self-recorded their efforts, paying close attention to how they might achieve the just-right abraded sounds.

That they assembled an album that sounds this good while working in their parent's basements says a lot about their talent. They have good taste in other people's records, but they also have the innate musical smarts to pull similar sounds out of their own: Boogarinsis rich, heavy, and sonorous, the guitar tones sensually warm and the vocals and drums sent through several treatments to blur them and lift them off the ground. On "Eu Vou", the vocals swim through liquid silence, tiny rippling mouth pops and a faraway synth the vocal track's only distant companions. It might be their tribute to Marble Index-era Nico; it channels a similar empty vastness.

Almeida and Ferraz are Brazilian, and it is impossible to listen to the album' opening track, from its title of "Lucifernandis" to its gonzo, slightly out-of-time opening riff and not think "Os Mutantes." That group's gently antic spirit, and their secret sweet-tooth genius with pop melodies, presides over Boogarins like a loony-uncle figure who won't ever quite leave the garage.  There are a million other little touches of songwriterly wit and grace on the album, imported from other sources: the quote of the Kinks' "Lazy Old Sun" that strings together "Hoje Aprendi de Verdade", the lift of what appears to be the guitar line for Wilco's "I'll Fight" on "Doce." Almeida and Ferraz know good melodies when they hear them.

Even when they borrow material, though, they use the quotes like jumping-off points, self-imposed challenges to craft their own memorable songs around them.  Their ear for melody is much stronger and more sophisticated than most bands their age—the sleepy guitar line winding through "Erre" has been restarting itself endlessly in my mind ever since I heard it. Even their one-minute-long, doodled sound experiments, like "Canção Perdida", float by on a pretty melody. There is a sense that the classic-rock heritage they are wading around in is a big, thrilling game to them, each song a Sudoku puzzle for their songwriting. There is a goofy, loose feel to As Plantas Que Curam, but it's a feint. Almeida and Ferraz aren't goofs; they're connoisseurs.


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