Album review: CSS' 'La Liberacion'
In hindsight, how prescient was CSS (Cansei de Ser Sexy, which means "tired of being sexy" in Portuguese) to release a sarcastic electro-poppy album about getting hammered and being too hot for your own good in 2006? Now that Ke$ha and Katy Perry have ridden similar sounds to the top of the charts (and tipsily onto the floors of the world’s best nightclubs), what’s a band of smarmy Brazilian discophiles to do?
On “La Liberacion,” it’s to go unexpectedly earnest. The band’s third album freshens up its synth-heavy productions with flourishes of piano pop and tight Cars-style guitars. But now that the deepest American suburbs are down with electro party nihilism, the band’s transition to the heartfelt really does feel like it's tired of being sexy.
Sometimes it works: “Hits Me Like a Rock” has a balmy, perfectly plastic Caribbean vibe; “Echo of Love” is a little late to the clean-guitar Afro-pop party, but CSS has enough street party chops to pull it off. But these smack-talking savants are usually way more fun than “Ruby Eyes” or “Partners in Crime” would suggest. “In the big city, nothing hurts,” singer Lovefoxxx purrs on “City Grrrl.” But the atypical sincerity of “La Liberacion” suggests that something -- whether the burdens of relentless sexiness or beating pop music at its own game too soon -- still does.
-- August Brown
Two stars (out of four)