Mallu Magalhães is a teenage girl from São Paulo who was raised on a steady diet of old Beatles, Dylan, and Johnny Cash records, to which she added a precocious fascination with before-her-time bedroom troubadours Belle and Sebastian. Upon hitting puberty, Mallu grabbed a guitar and began composing catchy, folky tunes in somewhat stilted English and became a social-network sensation in Brazil with onomatopœic ditties like "J1" and "Tchubaruba."
Her rise has sparked a lively debate in her homeland between those who call this "mini-Feist" (meant as a compliment) a garota prodigio and those purists who deride her as a flavor-of-the-month on-line poster girl with little to say. In fact, her debut is an impressive, ambitious collection that harks to the playfully inviting pop of vintage Astrud Gilberto, Françoise Hardy, and Marianne Faithfull and comes off as far more sincere than similar attempts by "adulteen" stars April March, Holly Golightly, Juana Molina, or, well, Feist.
It also says something about our devaluated pop landscape that it seems so refreshing to find a young female performer who leads with class and talent rather than with the proto-sleaze of the slatternly Disney brigade.