Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Tom Zé: Estudando a Bossa: Nordeste Plaza [Luaka Bop, 2010]
One reason Anglophone rockers dig Zé is that he resists the Portuguese-style nostalgia epitomized by saudade. But though he never comes near morbidity, here he's definitely an old man looking back fondly and a little sadly at the lost grace and sometimes companionship of his twenties, when it's just possible he didn't appreciate everything he had--particularly the melodicism of a quiet pop insurgency he was resistant enough to realize was also an assertion of cosmopolitan privilege. So he compensates with the most unabashedly beautiful album in his tuneful book--undercut, true enough, by his 74-year-old mumbles and croaks and even groans, but also lifted toward Sugarloaf Mountain by 11 different young or younger women whose mothers and grandmothers he might well have jerked off to in the Brigitte Bardot era. Nor is he about to lose his sense of humor. Because those groans are actually pretty funny, therefore also are they uncommonly beautiful. A