Forro in the Dark are finally ready to take their rambunctious Wednesday night festa out of the Alphabet City fringes with their debut album, Bonfires of São João. The crack squad of sidemen, led by percussionist Mauro Refosco, seem poised to launch what could well become North America’s Next Big Brazilian Thing: forró (pronounced fo-ho), the party music of northeastern Brazil, a style fathered by singer-accordionist Luiz Gonzaga. Bonfires is a blast, a pitch-perfect reenactment of FITD’s live energy that succeeds in conveying the exuberance and nostalgic spirit of traditional forró while imbuing it with a definite New York vibe, no doubt helped by its art-school-friendly guest vocalists: David Byrne on the woeful Gonzaga classic “Asa Branca,” Bebel Gilberto on the bossa nova–smooth “Wandering Swallow,” and Cibo Matto’s Miho Hatori on the Nipponized and maddeningly catchy (just try and get it out of your head) “Paraíba.”
But the party belongs to FITD’s regular crew, who employ a kitchen-sink collection of instruments to dazzle, stir, incite, and entertain. Confronted by the pifano-driven cowboy romp “Índios do Norte,” the sauntering zabumba-bottomed “Riacho do Navio,” and the guitar-and- pandeiro-fueled “Que Que Tu Fez,” your hips are destined to dance. And if you can’t dance like a Brazilian, pay no mind—this record will make you believe otherwise.