12 Songs, 42 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

CSS’s debut, 2006’s Cansei de Ser Sexy, was a sassy affair brimming with anarchic energy. The Brazilian group didn’t serve up any of the styles typically associated with that country; instead they retooled 1980s alt-rock to create danceable 21st century post-punk. In other words, they have more in common with LCD Soundsystem than Caetano Veloso. Four members of CSS are women — including lead vocalist Lovefoxxx — and the lone male in the group, drummer-turned-bassist Adriano Cintra, writes and produces. (Various band members contribute lyrics.) The wildness of Cansei de Ser Sexy is transformed into something more conventional on their second release, Donkey. Insistent guitar, catchy bass lines, synth hooks, and Lovefoxxx’s urgent vocals still mark the group’s sound, but everything here is more shaped and polished. The album’s darkest track, “Rat is Dead (Rage),” rides a surf beat and surges like classic Pixies. Another standout, the synth-driven “How I Became Paranoid,” balances tightly-wound rhythms and an infectious chorus to create edgy pop. It’s hard not to miss the excitement of the first album, but Donkey does capture a band sharpening its sound.

EDITORS’ NOTES

CSS’s debut, 2006’s Cansei de Ser Sexy, was a sassy affair brimming with anarchic energy. The Brazilian group didn’t serve up any of the styles typically associated with that country; instead they retooled 1980s alt-rock to create danceable 21st century post-punk. In other words, they have more in common with LCD Soundsystem than Caetano Veloso. Four members of CSS are women — including lead vocalist Lovefoxxx — and the lone male in the group, drummer-turned-bassist Adriano Cintra, writes and produces. (Various band members contribute lyrics.) The wildness of Cansei de Ser Sexy is transformed into something more conventional on their second release, Donkey. Insistent guitar, catchy bass lines, synth hooks, and Lovefoxxx’s urgent vocals still mark the group’s sound, but everything here is more shaped and polished. The album’s darkest track, “Rat is Dead (Rage),” rides a surf beat and surges like classic Pixies. Another standout, the synth-driven “How I Became Paranoid,” balances tightly-wound rhythms and an infectious chorus to create edgy pop. It’s hard not to miss the excitement of the first album, but Donkey does capture a band sharpening its sound.

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About CSS

São Paulo, Brazil's provocative, freewheeling dance-rock sextet CSS take their name from an abbreviation of "cansei de ser sexy," which is Portuguese for "tired of being sexy" (though, considering that the lead singer goes by the name Lovefoxxx, it's arguable how much that phrase actually applies to the band). Formed in 2003, CSS originally included bassist Iracema Trevisan, guitarist/drummer/keyboardist Luiza Sá, guitarist Ana Rezende, guitarist/drummer Carolina Parra, and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist/producer Adriano Cintra (also a member of Thee Butchers' Orchestra), though he left the band in 2011.

After meeting at clubs and through Internet social networking groups such as Fotolog and Trama Virtual, the band began crafting its unique but unpretentious sound through trial and error. CSS' Net-savvy ways led to them becoming a phenomenon on the Web; their extensively downloaded songs eventually caught the attention of more traditional media in Brazil and Europe. The band released two EPs on their own in 2004, Em Rotterdam Ja e uma Febre and A Onda Mortal/Uma Tarde com PJ, before signing to Trama Virtual in 2005. That fall, their debut album, Cansei de Ser Sexy, was released in Brazil, along with a bonus EP, CSS SUXXX. The members of CSS also used their other talents to forge the band's distinctive image: Lovefoxxx and Parra are graphic designers, Trevisan is a fashion designer, Rezende is a film student (and directed the video for the song "Off the Hook"), while Sá attended art school.

Early in 2006, Sub Pop signed the band and the label released Cansei de Ser Sexy in North America that summer. Shortly after the album's release, CSS did a string of dates in Canada and the U.S. with Diplo and Bonde do Role. The band's touring continued into 2007, with dates supporting Ladytron, Gwen Stefani, and Klaxons as well as a gig at that year's Lollapalooza festival. Late that year, their song "Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex" was used in an iPod commercial, and its popularity made it the highest-charting single by a Brazilian band in Billboard history. CSS' second album, Donkey, was produced by Cintra and mixed by Mark "Spike" Stent; shortly before its release in summer 2008, bassist Trevisan left the group. While touring in support of the album, the band continued to write songs, and went into the studio with collaborators including Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie and Ratatat. The results were the dance-punk-reggae fusion of La Liberación, which arrived in mid-2011 via V2 Records. Also in 2011, Cintra announced he had parted ways with CSS, citing various disagreements with the other bandmembers. In 2012, CSS returned with their fourth studio album, Planta. ~ Heather Phares

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