Purveyors of all things day glo and blippy, CSS have been off the radar for three years since the release of their lacklustre (and aptly named) second album Donkey (2008). The mule-ish effort would seem to have left everyone fatigued and slumped with ennui, front woman Lovefoxxx was quoted as declaring that she didn’t “like making music now” in the aftermath. Now, in a bid for freedom from new rave tags and the curse of the donkey, CSS are back with third album.
Opener,‘I Love You’ is a fizzing melody littered with cowbell, sing-song synths and grungey guitars strewn together with some classically CSS loopy lyrics, “I thought I was a traffic light”. Not the greatest album opener, it moves at a somewhat glacial pace. Second track ‘Hits me Like a Rock’, does just that. Clanky keys and shoulder shuffling synth sounds combined with breathy vocals from Lovefoxxx as well as guest vocals from none other than Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie, make for an album highlight, while ‘Red Alert’ echoes a similar psychedelic beach groove.
‘City Girl’ follows on with anthemic gusto as out of the mists of spritely latin guitar strumming a staccato voice proclaims “I wish I would dye my hair pink, put on black lipstick, because I don’t give a shit”. Big bolshie sounds abound with lyrics of longing (as an outsider) to leave a closed minded small town for “the big city [where] nothing hurts, nothing hurts”. All the swell and squall of CSS at their best is present on this track with some tongue firmly in cheek as Lovefoxx breathily advises “Don’t live your life girl, unless it’s just like a movie”.
Elsewhere, a plinky echoing piano runs playfully through ‘You Could Have It All’, mixed with unrelenting bass lines and some cheeky guitar riffs, while Lovefoxxx passionately half shouts, half rasps a tale of love gone bad, “you looked at me like you had no other option”. Probably the nearest to a ballad that CSS will get and an unexpected highlight. ‘Partners in Crime’ and ‘Ruby’s Eyes’ follow the same pattern, though with a more shoe gazey acoustic sound. Title track ‘La Liberación’, is an upbeat punk riddled foot stomper sung in the band’s native tongue. The guitar heavy intro never ceases, the kooky vocals will lodge in the brain and will have you singing along to the melody, even if you’re not fluent in Portuguese.
They’ve come a long way since Donkey, but the cut and paste approach to genre hopping that CSS seem to have adopted on La Liberación results in a jumble of songs half of which you may like, half of which will have you skipping them during the opening seconds. There is no real cohesion between any of the tracks, which exposes that despite having a ‘Fuck Everything’ attitude, CSS desperately want to please everyone. The aural experimentation is refreshing at points, yet mostly comes across as restless and unfinished. A case of too many hooks . . .