The title of Mice Parade's last album Obrigado Saudade translated to something like "Thank You Nostalgia" in Portuguese. Bem-Vinda Vontade roughly translates to "Welcome Will" (in the same language) and is very much a release that is tied to the previous release, as ideas that were touched upon bloom more fully and ideas that sounded like diversions become full-on ideas that push the group forward into a different direction than their somewhat noodly earlier albums.
This biggest change for the group is that while they have tinkered with vocals in the past, Bem-Vinda Vontade makes much more use of them, as they show up in nearly every single track (from a variety of singers). Kristin Anna Valtysdottir (Múm) offers her twee stylings again, while Doro Cachler and Ikuko Harada (lead singer of Japan's top-selling band Clammbon) offer two other female contrasts to Adam Pierce's increasingly confident vocals.
The other large change for the group is less of a focus on the unique chromatic instrumentation (chimes and vibraphone) that colored earlier releases like Mokoondi and Ramda. Pierce has obviously sharpened up his guitar skills over the course of the past couple years, and much of Bem-Vinda Vontade strums by with the warm sounds of nylon stringed acoustics. In fact, the album opens with "Warm Hand In Farmland" and "Nights Wave" (also the first single from the release) and both the tracks build with playful guitars while the latter builds with lush flourishes of accordian, rhodes, and soft vibraphones. Valtysdottir and Pierce trade off on vocal duties and the back-and-forth works in the favor of the track as it builds into a dense ending.
The rest of the album shows a lot more variety in terms of song structure while still managing to keep a very cohesive overall sound. "Passing & Galloping" layers washes of rhodes and soft guitar at the beginning of the track before turning into a power-chord singalong ending while "The Days Before Fiction" is an epic track that veers between male/female harmonized pop and extended instrumental jams (that weave in some excellent polyrhythmic percussion as Doug Scharin joins in the gang) that somehow all sprawl together in a perfectly natural way.
One thing that the switch to guitars as the main instrument has allowed is a little bit more of an aggressive sound in tracks and although the album never quite completely rocks out, Pierce takes much more advantage of the dynamics within tracks by building some tension with a louder build before dropping off into a quieter, more melodic passages (the excellent "The Boat Room" is a perfect example). As with past albums, the rhythmic elements are part of the standout qualities of the release (Pierce plays drums not only in Mice Parade, but with The Dylan Group, Múm, Lansing Dreiden, David Grubbs, and others) and this release is no different. I mentioned in my review of Obrigado Saudade that I thought it felt like more of a transitional album, and if that's the case, then Bem-Vinda Vontade is definitely more of a defined step. It's a melodic, pop album that doesn't pay attention to any typical structures or formulas, and Adam Pierce has pulled off another winner.