If Brazilian Girls' first album was like a drunken, dreamy party, their second album sounds like that same party got drunker, meaner and moved to Germany. More of the songs grind instead of swaying, featuring pumped-up drum and bass and low, fuzzy synthesizers.
But Brazilian Girls, a band with one girl and no Brazilians, still has its sense of humor on Talk to La Bomb, evidenced by a techno-like track that sounds like it could be the second coming of '80s one-hit wonders Nena: "Sexy Asshole." Most of the lyrics on this one are in German, but then the title says it all, does it not? On another track, "Tourist Trap," lead singer Sabina Sciubba sings over a bongo beat, "Losing at the casino/Drinking wine and tequila/Lalalalala/Throwing up."
Then there's "Last Call," a breathy, catchy number that features Ric Ocasek as a producer. It's an up-tempo paean to a go-go dancer -- nothing you'd ever associate with the former Cars frontman, except for the fact that it's probably the most radio-friendly track on the album. Someone described Talk to La Bomb to me as "rock-ier" than the band's first album -- but despite Ocasek's involvement, the rock feel does not seem particularly apparent. It feels more like an album that's designed to be played as background music in a club, as created by people who are making fun of everyone IN said club.
"Background Music" sounds like an indictment, which might not be quite fair. Sabina Sciubba's voice is always alluring to hear. She sounds like an international agent who happened to stumble on a microphone. Her range is limited, but her seductive charisma is not: On the slinky "Nicotine," she adds an Indian-style flourish to her voice; on other tracks, such as "Never Met a German," she makes the tongue in her cheek quite discernible.
There's a flip side to this kind of wide-ranging irony, which is that the album can get a little tiresome in spots, such as the title track, "Talk to the Bomb." In general, the band's second album is less inviting than the first -- though the scuzzier, less melodic sound does offer a showcase for drummer Aaron Johnston, whose beats are tight and impressive. Brazilian Girls are always a little strange and opaque, without seeming to get too deep -- it's tempting to listen in on Sciubba's patter of multiple languages to decode all the lyrics, but the lack of real emotion behind the delivery makes it easier to just put it on in the car, soak up the atmosphere, and appreciate the irony.