Under Review: CSS – La Liberación

There’s a certain amount of growing up that even the most unwilling band experiences when they’re three albums deep into their career. Though CSS, the flashy electro-rock band from São Paulo, already displayed a broader stylistic range on their 2008 album, Donkey, their newest work finds them at a frustrating crossroad. La Liberación is mostly comprised of sassy, brassy come-ons and put-downs that the band should’ve outgrown years ago. Their musical prowess is still entertaining enough, but their stilted lyrics and gratuitous use of profanity for its own sake detracts from what could have been an exceptional set of DayGlo pop. Bookended by “I Love You,” which conjures thoughts of “love and shit,” and “Fuck Everything,” which speaks for itself, CSS still tries to squeeze into the bratty pants of a younger, more inexperienced band. That wouldn’t be such a big problem if the album didn’t contain a couple of standout tracks that showed that CSS can do much, much better.

Around the same time that Donkey was released, vocalist Lovefoxxx also made an appearance on Beautiful Future, the contemporaneous album from British rock legends Primal Scream. The Scream’s frontman, Bobby Gillespie, makes an appearance on La Liberación’s best track, “Hits Me Like A Rock.” It’s a bubbly, gimmick-free number that gives the album its most honest moment, fleeting as it may be. Elsewhere on La Liberación, a cast of collaborators help CSS find their way. New York experimentalists Ratatat give “Red Alert” an air of late night exhaustion and pianist Mike Garson underscores the melodic earworm that is “Partners In Crime.” When musical director/bassist Adriano Cintra is left on his own, only a Talking Heads nod (“Echo Of Love”) proves to be anything more than glittery garbage. CSS could take a few lessons from a similarly minded (though geographically disparate) band: Brazilian Girls. You can be flirty without being trashy; youthful without being juvenile. It’s a fine line that CSS clumsily barreled right through.

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~ by E. on September 2, 2011.

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