Casting yourself as a cabaret artiste in love with a Martian is certainly more imaginative than basing your album around a soul singer in prison. But whilst the concept behind Las Venus Resort Palace Hotel might be more radical than Plan B's The Defamation of Strickland Banks, that Cibelle has chosen to set her third album in the last bar in the universe is less surprising than Ben Drew's reinvention from foul-mouthed grime rapper to smoky-voiced soul star.
For Cibelle Cavalli has always exhibited a certain eccentricity throughout her career. Not least in her decision to eschew the superstardom that beckoned in her home country of Brazil following collaborations with Celso Fonseca and 2002's self-titled debut album to settle in east London instead, where she produced 2007's The Shine of Dried Electric Leaves album.
Yet if, as the title suggested, that album was a nearly incorporeal mirage of tropically-tinged trip hop, Las Venus Resort Palace Hotel is as bright as the lights in some interplanetary city of sin. Adopting the persona of sci-fi glamour-puss Sonja Khalecallon and inspired by her collection of vintage Brazilian exotica records, tracks like Sapato Azul bleed with Technicolor hues like over-exposed celluloid from some forgotten psychedelic 60s cult flick. Meanwhile, Man From Mars is a musical firework display exploding with calypso percussion, dubstep squelches, brass and techno electronics; Mr and Mrs Grey suddenly transmutes from ballroom waltz to ringing rock'n'roll, and the cover of Raymond Scott's Lightworks could almost be a Broadway show-stopper remixed by J Dilla.
Changing costumes as quickly as Bat For Lashes if she was dressing for a space opera rather than a Gothic tragedy, Cibelle's enthusiasm is infectious; although those left cold by Natasha Khan's theatrical affectations are unlikely to warm to Cibelle's play-acting either. But, crucially, her voice has the alchemical power to turn apparent kitsch into pure emotion, as on the cover of It's Not Easy Being Green, originally performed by Kermit the Frog on Sesame Street. Sung as a touching lament to loneliness with knowing winks replaced by tears in the eyes, it's proof that Cibelle is no musical Muppet.