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Music Review: CSS – La Liberacion

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CSS (Cansei De Ser Sexy) returns with their third effort at getting the party started. Before even spinning the record, it is very difficult not to compare La Liberacion to the band’s first, excellent self-titled album that arrived in 2006. That record crashed onto the youthful populace like an ambush of dance rock themes that no one knew was coming. The Brazilian group followed up with Donkey which, of course, didn’t quite live up to the hopes of a perceived strong sophomore effort. CSS finds itself in a difficult position on their third record, for people will still expect some powerful, “feel good” dance tunes even though it is clear that the band has been trying to expand their sound a little bit each time.

What is immediately apparent on La Liberacion is that the band has matured some in their themes and compositions. “I Love You” is heavy on the keyboards and uptempo beat like a tried and true CSS head bopper, but its subject matter is all about Lovefoxx recounting her joy in finding someone. Hmmm, this doesn’t sound like the untroubled confession that “Music Is My Hot Hot Sex.” “Hits Me Like a Rock” comes across as a light pop tune with a reggae feel that goes off as another love song. W-h-a-t?? While Lovefoxx still sings in her bright, raspy voice, the illusions of a full-out return to their debut album’s carefree themes have vanished quickly.

That is not to say that La Liberacion is not an enjoyable record by any means, but it might not be a collection of tracks that you will wish to return to often. “City Grrrl” is more along the club bumpin’ pace that one might associate with CSS, but it may merely benefit by getting some help from the edgy group the Ssion. It takes four songs to finally get to a tune that traditional CSS fans will likely enjoy.  “You Could Have It All” has that strong combination of keyboard beat foundation and guitar riffs. While Lovefoxx varies her range adeptly on “You Could Have It All,” her range is completely narrowed on the rock ‘n roller title track that follows. As “Partners in Crimes” quietly rolls in with some piano, it is clear that CSS has grown to diversify their sound quite dramatically.

Even though many songs are not typical dance songs, the beats and tempos of every tune on the record still make La Liberacion a successful effort. The reggae-like pop tunes of “Hits Me Like a Rock” and “Echo of Love” will appeal those who like some light foot tappers, while “Rhythm to the Rebels” and “You Could Have It All” will appeal to dance fans. The group’s interest in mixing their sound leaves them open for more listeners to appreciate their music, even if it frustrates some of their veteran followers.

Some may say that without the consistent glitz and party attitude, CSS will fall into line with the indie music masses, and thus public interest will dwindle. Even if the group is no longer concerned about carrying a club scene, they continue to be an intriguing band to follow. Lovefoxx is still an appealing ball of energy and spice, the band’s combination of electronics and guitar still packs a good sound, and every song has a chance to invigoratethe listener one way or another. The truth is that CSS is getting more serious about their music and their lyrics. Therefore, fans will have to accept the remnants of the band’s beginnings while considering CSS’ drive towards depth, quality, and credibility.

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About Evan Mauser