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OK, quick introduction time. Antena formed in the early 80s in Paris, recorded a handful of samba-scented pop vignettes for chic Belgian label, Les Disques Du Crepuscule, before key member Isabelle went solo and delivered a million sales from a dozen albums across the globe. She is worshipped in Japan, treated like royalty and generally given the freedom of any given city over there. In her home country she might be asked the time of day and in Britain, don't even go there - the lady is unheard of. Travesty.

Think back to Bebel Gilberto's short reign of world-music supremacy - 'Tanto Tempo' and all that. Antena have never had a sniff nor even an accolade about their timeless music and I still fail to see why, after several French-English albums, she or they never stamped their trainer-print onto the head of British music. Will this new and rather exquisite set of chilled-out electro-samba carols do them justice? What do you think?

'Bossa Nova Songs' is an experiment of sorts - the result of several hours of loft-rummages, heady rehearsals with analogue equipment and a deliberate nod to their debut album, 'Camino Del Sol'. It's rather tasty.

It would be churlish to single out one highlight here because there are so many. The opening foray into sand-swept lazy-days on a distant shore, 'Une Francaise Sur Mars', is a hip-wiggling triumph and the epitomy of Isabelle Antena's output and attitude. 'For No Reason' does the same, replete with cheeky little cosmic sparkles and Gallic twinkles that remind me of 'Sur Ton Ile', a single from the early 90s that ranks as one of her finest efforts. 'Happy In My Garden' is a highlight - a bossa-nova homage to the heights of summer only previously heard on 'Summer's Cauldron by XTC.

There is no low-point throughout the entire set, although 'Leaving Las Vegas' and 'A Night Of Infinity' breeze past gently, perhaps begging for the intervention of previous collaborators Thievery Corporation. Still good of course. But, as a whole, 'Bossa Nova Songs' welcomes the attentions of those who adore French-language subtlety, samba-fused trickery and summer-time hip-swinging anthems and who want something more than just 'bash-bash-bash' 'I-love-you' stereotypical pop-songs. 12 really worthy tracks out of 12 - when did you last get that from an album? Frankly, Lady GaGa can go sit on a sharpened-spike.

Elsewhere, 'Under Your Closed Eyelids' was used in the successful US TV series, 'Boondocks' while the short and sweet cover of the 60s urban-folk hit, 'Little Boxes' concludes the album with little in the way of fireworks, yet plenty in the way of staunch resilience and a latin-flavoured middle-finger to the world.
Paul Pledger

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