Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Serapicos - "Serapicos Is A Town"

Serapicos is the recording moniker for the Sao Paulo, Brazil based indie singer-songwriter Gabriel Serapicos, who has just recently self-released his fantastic debut album, Serapicos Is A Town.  Though he speaks his native Portuguese, he sings in English and he taught himself the language in part while watching Wes Anderson and Coen Brothers films along with the subtitles.  The dark yet whimsical worlds of those movies helped him fashion the humorous and movie-like lyrics and characters of Serapicos Is A Town.  To record the album, Gabriel assembled a cast of studio musicians to help him bring his music to life, including his younger brother Pedro who contributes keyboards and acoustic guitars. 
The opening track, “There Is No Satisfaction” is a soaring and hip-shaking 1960’s garage-pop revue complete with vintage organ and a funky guitar riff.  The witty innuendo of the first single, “Blow Me” stands out with melodic guitar runs that are reminiscent of Pavement’s Stephan Malkmaus, a bouncing rhythm and an infectious sing-along chorus.   The self-deprecating “Artists Are Crazy” follows with a busy yet inventive arrangement filled with various synths sounds and processed guitars along with a swirling chorus.  Aside from its child-like title, “Pee Pee Jazz” is a sweet and dreamy waltzing ballad with a shuffling wire-brush beat that showcases Gabriel’s ability to write pop songs with a great sense for blending the classic with the modern.  “Lucky Numbers” is moody and atmospheric with twinkling piano notes and a lurching bass line as Gabriel opens up with an aching and emotional vocal.  As a change of pace, “Inspire Me” stands out with some sunny and strummy Beach Boys-like melodies and some delirious psych-pop inspired background vocals.  Another standout, “The Sexiest Girl In The World” features a reverb-rich guitar riff and some catchy melodies that recall the quirky mid-90’s indie-pop created by Cake.  The piano-led “Balloon” is highlighted by Beatles-esque melodies and more psychedelic guitar work.  A punk rock-inspired count-off opens “The Egg Song” but the song quickly goes in a different psych-pop direction with vintage organs and a pumped up rhythm along with infectious group vocals for yet another standout moment.  Later, Gabriel moans and laments on “When Your Husbands Away”, which is set to meditative cyclical acoustic guitars for a down and out folk tune.  “I Just Want To Be Your Friend” features a poppy arrangement with buoyant piano that is the opposite of the playfully hurtful lyrics.  “Love Pills” follows with another intriguing arrangement filled with sparking bells that lulls you into a dream-like state.  Warped keyboards and chiming guitars give the cosmic pop of “Russian Roulettes And Persian Carpets” a Shins-like boost.  And the fifteen song album closes out with the pounding piano, 50’s rock guitars and syrupy sweet melodies of “Sexy Julia” and the instantly memorable whistling and introspective folk of the title track, “Serapicos Is A Town”.
Serapicos Is A Town, the debut album by Serapicos is not entirely cohesive but neither is an actual town, with all of its characters and such but it has enough standout moments and interesting quirks that it captures your attention for the entire fifteen song cycle and that, along with Gabriel’s crafty arrangements and super-catchy melodies make for a very promising debut.  The good news is that the prolific songwriter with the baritone voice is already sitting on two more albums worth of songs ready to be recorded and I can’t wait to hear what he comes up with next!     


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