Os Mutantes: Fool Metal Jack
Like a retiree at a college party, Os Mutantes’ newest album, Fool Metal Jack tries hard to relive long past revelry. When they play by their old tricks – scratchy Bossa-tinged Tropicalismo tracks (see “Eu Descobri” and “To Make it Beautiful”) – they seem surprisingly cool. The rest is a motley affair.
Formed in 1966, Os Mutantes is a psychedelic Brazilian outfit that stood out from other revolutionary 60’s Latin American groups by fighting corrupt political change with sarcasm, wit, and a stoner’s nonchalance. Their carefree spirit and hypnotic rock rhythms are captured well in this 2008 McDonald’s ad, “Victory”, featuring their song, “Minha Menina.”
Though Mutantes split up in 1976, they managed to capture more fanfare than most other foreign language bands in the English music world. Part of their charm, however, has been the foreign language lyrics. On Fool Metal Jack, all the singing is done awkwardly in English. And the lyrics, though tongue-in-cheek, have few peaks. They are even stilted and distracting from the great textured psychedelic instrumentation throughout the album.
Musically, the album revels in eclecticism without ever developing any of the many paths the band pursues. There is reggae (“Ganja Man”), George Harrison-esque Hare Krishna (“Bangladesh”), and the ugly truths of war (“Fool Metal Jack”).
The band tries to relive the revolutionary spirit of the late 60s, but for that we can always count on Mad Men and Os Mutantes’ tried and true original music (The band split up between 1976 and 2006, when only one original member returned). Hearing old-timers swimming through old material makes me feel uneasy, like imagining what will be left of Social Security once all the Baby Boomers retire.