CSS - La Liberación

La Liberación, CSS

Fontana, Brazil

Rating: 60

by Jean-Stephane Beriot

Cansei de Ser Sexy is making every negligible and relevant publication out there accentuate at least one vowel in their latest issue/web update with the release of La Liberación. The highly anticipated third album from Brazil’s most flamboyant and intercontinental import is a step forward from their self-destructive and self-descriptive sophomore album, Donkey. Bittersweet news, though, as CSS is still mediocre at best. In the lapse of three back-to-back albums, lead party host Lovefoxxx and hybridizing producer Adriano Cintra have succeeded at keeping things breezy and fluorescently trashy. Nothing wrong with that, but once you realized CSS is more about posture than actual pop pedigree, things get to be anything but liberating.

It would be very easy to consent to the CSS experience as one exclusive to the dance floor and the sunny days, but that’s a settlement not even the band would ever approve of. For one, because behind the fun summer jams and adolescent revolt themes there is a band with a certain level of ambition. When CSS opts to self-resolve the album’s first quintessential line “Feel the beat of my heart?” with something as fuzzy as “I love you, I love you too,” you can’t help but cringe. Lovefoxxx and company are blindly immersed in hyper-strained ground and, while wonderfully entertaining at times (see the off-your-seat “City Grrrl”), overall they’re not very savvy at resolving their own dramatic tests. But the few times they do get it right, you come to realize you’ve been rooting for them all along.

In a recent chat with Spin, the band disclosed the only imposed rule while recording this album was “to be very exuberant and not think of how to do it live.” There are very few moments in which the band fulfills that promise, and I think it’s for the better. It’s the funkier and slower numbers that save La Liberación from a complete malfunction. Just listen to the beachy waves and breathy vocals on “Hits Me Like A Rock” and you’ll get to understand the band’s ironic confession about losing their edge. The very attractive and lauded Spanish-language title track is also impressive in its march-like sequencing, but it is a lyrical disaster (if you understand the whole horse imagery here, please enlighten me). CSS has made a career out of well-handled funky hooks and an over-the-top spirit, and that’s ultimately what you get here. La Liberación is yet another effort to reconcile nu rave with its new wave cousin. The approach and execution are flawed, but somehow they always manage to keep most things afloat.