“You can’t judge a book by its cover.” But when the book is the new album from Brazilian baile-funk hipsters Bonde Do Role, and the cover depicts Rio’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue shooting red lasers out of its eyes, it’s hard not to make assumptions.
As Brazilian purveyors of sleazy electro with an energetic front-woman, comparisons to CSS are inevitable, and well founded. The key difference is that, despite opener Danca Do Zumbi threatening “death to your speakers” in a Darth Vaderesque voice, Bonde’s lyrics are almost all in Portuguese. This may be a blessing, as some of their lyrical efforts would make Peaches blush. Bonde cite their influences as “Nasty stuff. Sex with food, general perversion”: “I saw a whore/I put my tongue into her asshole/And my tongue came out all dirty” intoned one of their early efforts, and album track James Bonde imagines a gay 007.
The producer is Diplo, M.I.A’s collaborator on Arular, and the latter’s quickfire beats and trumpet bursts are recalled on Gasolina, one of ‘With Lasers’’ standout tracks. Bonde do run the risk, however, of being dismissed as a novelty act: orgasmic groans in Office Boy; arcade-game zaps in the awful Quero Te Amar, and Tieta sounds like Aqua in Portuguese. But with highlights like Solta o Frango, with its catchy call-and-response refrain, the band nevertheless packs a whole lot of fun into half an hour.
The big, dumb, garish, funky, sleazy, colourful carnival of ‘With Lasers’ is guaranteed to get the party started.