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Swathed in intimacy, sweet nothings and romance, Nina Becker and Marcelo Callado’s new album Gambito Budapeste (YB Music/Bolacha) is bound to steal a few hearts. The couple recorded the album in the comfort of their own apartment in Rio de Janeiro – Becker was pregnant at the time – using just a microphone, a computer and some software, and the lyrics purr about legs and arms, longing, tenderness and hugs. Even the sofa where they created and recorded the album gets a mention in the first track, ‘Cadê você?’ – ‘Where are you?’
Of the twelve tracks included on the album, just one came from outside the cosy Becker/Callado songwriting nest: ‘Armei a Rede’ (I’ve hung up the hammock’) was composed by the Bahian musician Assis Valente together with Arsênio Ottoni. Becker and Callado take turns on the vocals, and sing a handful of duets to boot.
And like a painted carousel spinning in gentle circles, the songs come and go with the simple instrumental structure of leisurely ballads, with plenty of bells and more than a hint of a soft bossa nova here and there. The dynamic only changes on two occasions. The pop rock song ‘Marca Zero’, sung by Becker, catches listeners off guard with its unexpectedly upbeat tempo; and in the song ‘Futuro’, sung by Callado, the rhythmic temperature heats up thanks to a pinch of 1960s psychedelia, courtesy of an electric guitar and a sure, steady touch on the cymbals.
Everything is a matter of taste: fans will be thrilled by the pair’s new spin on romantic music, but those who go for more energetic genres might be just a touch – dare we say it – bored, by the monochord textures.