Album Review: Luísa Maita – Fio Da Memória [Cumbancha, September 2016]

“Jump above the sky, inside your eyes”. This is Luísa Maita’s enticing invitation as she provocatively chants the last words of her second album titled Fio Da Memória and released by Cumbancha. Maíta wants us to know that this is not a record for conformists willing to digest her songs at face value. An empowered, fearless and determined female artist, she writes dark, electro-pop songs laden with reverb-heavy hooks and samba influenced rhythms. Her album is a blend of bold flavours interspersed with punches of samba, bossa nova, MPB and jazz. However, her layers of hauntingly seductive vocals are the main attraction, with pointed lyrics and eerie undertones.

This is the second album from Maíta, who released her debut LP Lero-Lero in 2010. The buzz this created in the music press made music fans pay attention and in 2011 she won Best New Artist in the Brazilian Music Awards – the Latin-American equivalent of the Grammy Awards. Having grown up in liberal Bixiga, an area of São Paulo known for its rich mix of cultural influences, she credits her city’s immersion in traditional samba and party spirit, and her music industry parents, for her love of songwriting.

Listening to her album from beginning to end feels like a coming of maturity. Although some songs feel a little disjointed, this is an album of experimentation and Maita isn’t afraid to cast aside the lighter style of her first album. Her second offering starts with her most derivative song ‘Asa’. With a club feel, it’s an energetic start to an ultimately down-tempo album. Her most instantly catchy song is ‘Around You’, which uses carnival rhythms and a throbbing bass to escalate the tension on a playful track. Despite the disarming tease of this tribal dance, the song is the temptress gatekeeper of the album, luring you in deeper. As the album progresses, track ‘Ela’, is a departure from previous styles with an emotive, jazzy feel. Dreamlike harmonies and a spotlight on the instrumental landscape set the mood for a more spell-binding second half.

On the whole, Fio Da Memória is awash with creative ideas, dense arrangements and a fierce electronic palette. This is the kind of album that soars high above you through the clouds, before swooping down and flying you away into the opaque, samba-drenched night. We’ll be ready in the dark, hands held out, waiting to be prey.