Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
Music writers often adhere to the rule of three: When it comes to describing a musical style, referencing two bands isn’t enough (and four is just showing off). Thankfully, anybody covering modern electro-funk-carioca now has São Paolo’s Télépathique to cite in addition to better-known Brazilian dance acts Bonde Do Role and Cansei de Ser Sexy. American audiences are likely more familiar with the latter groups for their songs’ placement in television commercials—Bonde Do Role’s “Solta O Frango” for Nokia and Cansei de Ser Sexy’s “Music Is My Hot Hot Sex” for Apple—than for any exposure on the dance floor. Télépathique, comprised of DJ-drummer Erico Theobaldo and singer Mylene Pires, shares some musical elements with those two acts—its debut full-length, Last Time on Earth (released in South America in 2006), features live drumming paired with programmed beats, punk attitude, carnal themes, and female vocals that switch between English and Portuguese. But the duo differs from its contemporaries by being less goofy, creating a more straightforward, four-on-the-floor dance sound influenced by house and breakbeat. The leadoff track, “Déjà-vu,” begins with Pires coolly intoning, “I’m not what you think I am/Never gonna be,” while Theobaldo works overtime playing drums and guitar and tweaking the overall sound. (He processes Pires’ vocals through a nifty staccato effect—one he apparently likes so much he recycles it on “Sex, Drugs and Funk and Roll.”) Pires may be the face of Télépathique, but Theobaldo is undeniably the architect of the band’s sound, which is why a track like “Wild” succeeds with minimal vocal contributions. Pushing eight minutes long, the song takes its time working up to a steady old-school house beat before Pires finally comes along to offer a few brief breathy lines. Theobaldo embellishes the tune with high-end whines and low-synth rumbles before the tune unexpectedly devolves into what sounds like a Galaga arcade game overheating. A more traditional bossa nova side, though, emerges on “Vida Inteira”: Over a lively but relaxed beat, Pires gets a chance to show off her pipes for a bit, sounding like a cross between Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier and Sade. Last Time on Earth has a couple of 12-inches’ worth of stellar sexed-up tracks, though there are a few clunkers, like the repetitive “Telefunk” and the unfocused “Kabalah.” But even if Télépathique doesn’t enjoy the breakout success of its contemporaries, the album is unlikely to leave any listener, as Pires sings on “I’m Not the Man You Think I Am,” “burning with indifference.”