The Brazilian dance-heavy new-wavers of CSS have still got it. And by it, I mean an unapologetic and mischievous brand of raw dance-pop-fueled vigor. However, the band’s third studio album, La Liberacion, brings this energy in glimpses, not in full force.
Admittedly fun but rarely clever lyrics plus a pocket of lagging songs make for a hot-and-cold album. The first track, “I Love You,” opens with high intensity, traveling down a rave-y rabbit hole, complete with Auto-Tune. This starts as a good thing, but the excitement tapers off almost as soon as it begins, and the song remains flat until its non-climactic ending.
With single “Hits Me Like A Rock,” CSS once again attests to that love of and addiction to music that fueled 2006’s “Music Is My Hot Hot Sex.” The song is similarly successful; addictive oh ohs build up into a floaty, nonchalant but perfectly sugary chorus. Guest vocals by Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie mellow the pop, preventing the song from becoming cloying.
Sultry Spanish guitar kicks off “City Grrl,” the album’s third track. With frontlady Lovefoxxx’s initial snarl, the song makes an instantaneous 180-degree turn into a sexy snarling disco romp. Lyrics are cliché verging on cheesy, but CSS unapologetically owns the bulk of it, even lines like “Don’t live your life, girl, unless it’s just like a movie.”
The album’s weakest point begins with “Partners In Crime,” a strange sort of demure love letter. Mildly wistful piano paired with unoriginal, monotone lyrics drag this track down into mediocrity. It lacks vibrancy and is devoid of the rambunctious electric bad assery that CSS in its best form shoves forth. The contrast is especially apparent due to the song’s unfortunate placement after the firecracker title track, a guitar-heavy punk number. Two similarly nondescript songs follow, marking a distinct trough in La Liberacion.
Toward the end of the album, “Red Alert,” a relaxed number complemented by breathy choruses, brings redemption, rounding out another hot point. Ratatat adds chiming backbeats, further strengthening the track. Despite its inconsistencies, La Liberacion undoubtedly mixes it up.