CSS – La Liberación (Sub Pop)

Brazilian nu rave group CSS made a big splash in 2005 with album Cansei de Ser Sexy. 2008 follow-up Donkey lived up to its name, and three years later the band is back with more bright and punky indie/electronic fun on La Liberación, an album that attempts to reconcile the CSS’s trademark silliness with a maturity befitting a band that’s been around for almost a decade.

The album begins with Peaches-lite, club-friendly track I Love You, with lead singer Lovefoxxx singing “fix me with a kiss boy – can you fix me with what I really need”? Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie guests on the next song, the duet Hits Me Like A Rock. Gillespie’s soft and nuanced vocals are an interesting contrast to Lovefoxxx’s rather strident singing. Despite the drama inherent in the duet form and a thoughtful musical evolution within the song, it doesn’t really go anywhere emotionally. Next track City Grrrl sounds like The Donnas with glo sticks, and Echo Of Love provides some pleasantly unexpected melodies before star track You Could Have It All bursts in with some pure pop power. With delicate piano trickling over squelchy bass, solid riffs and uncharacteristically emotionally honest lyrics, CSS display an evolution in their sound on this track for the first time. “You could have it all, you could have it all, but then what’s left for me” sighs Lovefoxxx wistfully.

Title track La Liberacion features an inspired combination of Spanish lyrics and Ramones-esque punk guitars, creating a sound so bouncy and fun it’ll make you want to jump on the couch. Pianist Mike Garson is roped in on Partners In Crime. Garson has played for David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails, but here his wings are clipped by a song so full of words and harsh guitar there’s no room for his melodies to take flight. The album takes a turn for the worse with the intentionally flat singing on Ruby Eyes and the insipid Rhythm To The Rebels. Red Alert features a Blondie-esque rap (a nice change from all that raucous singing) and the album rounds off with the fun but dumb Fuck Everything before devolving into complete stupidity with a superfluous ‘hidden track’ featuring an idiotic message from Lovefoxxx (“Hi, my name is Lovefoxxx and I am twelve years old. I like pencils and pens. I like cooking, and I like cookies”).

La Liberación doesn’t have a song to match the groovy beats and crazy catchiness of Music Is My Hot Hot Sex from CSS’s debut. On the plus side, no songs are quite as inane either. This album is not a donkey, but it is a bit of an ass… and somehow it’s quite sexy too.

Kathryn van Beek


Click here to listen to You Could Have It All from La Liberacion