sat 20/07/2024

Album: Raf Vilar - Clichê | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Raf Vilar - Clichê

Album: Raf Vilar - Clichê

Ex-pat Brazilian’s London-recorded second album could be more bold

Raf Vilar's 'Clichê': vaporous

Although Raf Vilar grew up in Rio De Janeiro he has been based in London for over a decade, where his second album Clichê was recorded. It appears on a label operating from Malmö, Sweden. In keeping with this internationalism, what’s emerged isn’t wholly identifiable as a Brazilian album. His 2011 first was unequivocally titled Studies In Bossa. Now, the designation is more inscrutable.

Clichê ends with its title track. Jazzy, with a Bossa Nova lilt, it is intimate, quiet and restrained. The lyrics are in Portuguese, so immediate understanding is difficult – but clichê does translate as cliché. However, other songs are in English. The shimmering “So Have we” has the refrain “hurry up and fight for your love.” “Burning Fuel” invites the focus of attention to “come close” and asks what they can handle.

While Clichê thematically appears to about going beyond personal boundaries, musically it oscillates between a Milton Nascimento-esque Brazilian pop with rhythmic nods to Bossa Nova and the less characterisable: Solid Air John Martyn meets a Tropicália-slanted second album Paul McCartney. Vilar’s voice is close-miked, high, often tremulous and imploring. The arrangements are sparse.

Beyond the intimate feel, getting a handle on what’s heard is difficult as Clichê doesn’t cohere overall. Also, although Vilar has his recognisable touchstones there’s an inescapable impression that by consciously reining himself in, full potential is not realised. If the vaporous Clichê was more bold, less deliberate, it may linger longer. Perhaps Vilar might be less cautious in a live setting.


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