Album Review: CSS – ‘Liberation’

Remember 2006, when CSS came, saw and conquered our parties? Well, sorry guys, but it ain’t 2006 anymore

It seems almost perverse to think that [a]CSS[/a] are celebrating their eighth birthday next month. The Brazilian quintet have always been music’s neon toddlers; they brought face paint, flowers, fun and a disco-funk-punk debut to a monochrome mid-noughties during their terrible twos, and anyone who made love while listening to ‘[b]Cansei De Ser Sexy[/b]’ wished they could carry on like that forever.

They couldn’t, of course, and second album syndrome was near-life-threatening. If the music of the debut was hot, hot sex, ‘[b]Donkey[/b]’ was more of a gruntfest. Stripped of wide-eyed wonder and puerile insouciance, it was the worse case of a band low on ideas sticking to a formula. It felt phoned in – long distance –perhaps because it was reportedly recorded while they travelled the globe.

In a way, [a]CSS[/a] wrote their own sell-by date. By tempting the world with a debut so smart and subversive, so unique and so CSS-esque, their only option, without a dramatic change of MO, was to churn out similar stuff. And so to their third, the curate’s omelette of ‘[b]La Liberación[/b]’. The good news is there’s plenty of classic CSS. Opener ‘[b]I Love You[/b]’ kicks out the cowbells within seconds, swinging galactic synths into view for a big pop/Eurotrance face-off. If that gets you running for the glitter, ‘[b]City Grrrl[/b]’ will practically frogmarch you to the nearest dance party.

It’s a titanic track of juggernaut rave riffs, trumpet flourishes and overlapping vocal lines, one of which – “[i]I wish I would dye my hair pink/Put on black lipstick/Because I don’t give a shit[/i]” – sees Lovefoxxx at her fresh-faced finest. [a]CSS[/a] may care deeply about every song (though it often doesn’t sound like it), but for the listener, a lot of the charm has worn off.

Take the title track, a pretty harmless punk stomp in Portuguese that’s so throwaway it leaves no trace. And while fans of the F-word will rejoice during closer ‘[b]Fuck Everything[/b]’ and its we’re-so-young-and-we-don’t-care lyrics (“[i]I’m so high/I’m gonna fuck it up… Even if the music sucks/Fuck everything[/i]”), the rest of us are left wondering why we should care.

Maybe during their teens they’ll evolve, Lovefoxxx will change her name back to Luisa and they’ll record a Tom Waits covers album. Until then, it looks like we’ll see facsimiles of the original template – if not carbon copies, then at least cascading style sheets – which will just about do. For now.

Tim Chester



  • Director: Adriano Cintra
  • Record label: V2
  • Release date: 22 Aug, 2011