Sergio Mendes is a Brazilian legend. His name might not be a big draw here at Scene Point Blank, where the focus is on punk, hardcore, and metal, but—hey—we gotta branch out now and then, right?
Magic is the 73 year-old’s latest offering, and it comes with a smorgasboard of rhythmic styles and special guests. While it’s true to his roots as a composer, the record is a bit schizophrenic and unfocused as a result of the constantly revolving line-ups, with styles pulling from collaborations that bring in outside influence from the likes of will.i.am to Seu Jorge, and others.
Mendes’ recent accolades come with his song “One Nation,” which closes out the record (featuring Carlinhos Brown), which was a song for the World Cup. It’s familiar and sounds fitting for such an event: jingo-istic, memorable, and full of Latin flair. His other recent pop culture foray was the Rio soundtrack, and there’s some of that here too.
Personally, my own interest in Mendes pulls from his earlier work such as his debut Herb Alpert Present Sergio Mendes & Brasil ‘66, with a bossa nova vibe that downplays the heavy beats and instead emphasizes the rhythm and deeper instrumentation. There are a few such tracks here, notably “Hidden Waters,” which is a standout. Other stronger cuts are those featuring Gracinha Leporace on vocals, which should be no surprise as she performed vocals on those older releases.
As for the various styles achieved, the will.i.am vehicle “My My My My Love” is the greatest example. It succeeds as a pop song, no doubt with the Black Eyed Peas honcho contributing to the big dance beats. It straddles the genre lines well, ultimately a pop song but with a big traditional Brazilian fervor that burrows into memory.
Magic isn’t a bad record. The various styles at play are interesting to contemplate as they’re paired back to back, but it never feels cohesive or particularly visionary. While it ends on the “One Nation” calling card, it feels more lost than unified.
6.0 / 10
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