Release Date: Jul 22, 2008
Record label: Sub Pop
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Brazilian hipster kids CSS intro’d their debut with the self-deprecating chant of “CSS Suxxx,” setting a goofy tone for a record that didn’t take itself too seriously. Yet it was an undeniable blast. Donkey kicks off with singer Lovefoxxx warning, “We didn’t come into the world to walk around / We came here to take you out,” a tough-talking line emblematic of their overall sense of confidence and growth.
Brazilian electro-punk outfit Cansei de Ser Sexy, better known as CSS, gained recent success courtesy of its track “Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex” being featured in an iPod Touch ad last year. CSS has since become the highest charting Brazilian band on the Billboard Hot 100, an achievement that seems all the more unlikely coming from a band whose debut album thrived on self-deprecation (“CSS Suxxx”), referenced noise-rockers Death from Above 1979, and took riotous swipes at America’s most loathsome heiress on “Meeting Paris Hilton. ” Their name hilariously translates to “tired of being sexy,” a direct quote from none other than uber-ego Beyonce.
CSS' name, an abbreviation of the Brazilian-Portuguese phrase "Cansei de Ser Sexy," is literally translated to "I got tired of being sexy." This moniker seemed harmless and sufficiently ironic when the group's self-titled debut album came out two years ago. If they were tired of being sexy, it sure didn't show. With the help of airplay gained from the ubiquitous, ad-fave "Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex," CSS emerged as an exuberant, defiant, foulmouthed group of Brazilian youngsters with incredible dance-pop sensibility and a lead singer whose lyrics and persona commanded sexual energy.
It's hard not to detect a certain self-assurance in CSS's choice of name for their second album. The Brazilian quintet (they've shed a member since their debut) apparently settled on Donkey after discarding the working title Hunk of Shit. In recent years, making a successful second album has become the great trial of any flourishing band's career, rock music's answer to those manhood rituals in which pubescent tribesmen are forced to leap naked over stampeding cattle or allow a palsied elder to hack at their old chap with a stone knife while under the influence of hallucinogens.
After delivering an acclaimed debut, bands sometimes try to "improve" their follow-up with a more sophisticated approach that, all too often, ends up overpowering what was appealing about their music in the first place. Cansei de Ser Sexy's self-titled first album was a glorious D.I.Y. hash of chunky guitars, cheap synths, and Lovefoxxx's brashly sexy vocals, and its rawness just made it more bracing.
Back in 2006, Brazilian art punks CSS cannonballed into the staid indie-rock kiddie pool, with cheeky jams about Paris Hilton and too-cool-for-school Brooklyn bands. Then they scored big with the unlikely iPod-ad anthem ”Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex.” But it’s hard to reconcile the nose-thumbing anarchy of CSS’ debut with Donkey, its lackluster follow-up. Despite momentary highs like ”Rat Is Dead (Rage)” and ”Move,” the entire album feels muffled by standard dance-punk grooves and generic call-to-party lyrics.
Review Summary: Socially awkward? Want a boyfriend? Don't like music much? This album is for you.In America, you have 'O.C. indie', a genre of music dedicated to skimming the surface of the zeitgeist and summing it up for people who don't really care about music. People for whom Phantom Planet, The Killers, Jem, and The Reindeer Section can be placed on the same level as Interpol, Eels, and Modest Mouse.
Transgression was a big part of CSS's appeal back in 2006 when this band of bratty, potty-mouthed Brazilians bounced up and down in pigtails to a chant of "C-S-S Suxxx!" Whether you were a guy making the limbic connection between risqué language and risqué behavior, or a girl sick of being held to a double standard for lady-like-ness, CSS was a breath of fresh air. "Suck, suck, my art tit" indeed … it was fun stuff. Still, that was then, this is Warner-distributed now.
São Paulo, Brazil, fivepiece CSS invaded earbuds worldwide when Apple featured the criminally catchy "Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex" from 2006 debut Cansei de Ser Sexy (literally, "I'm tired of being sexy") hocking the iPod Touch. Like fellow Brazilian lo-fi synth rockers Bonde do Rolê, CSS specializes in bratty, debaucherous dance-floor revelry. Sadly, Donkey's slick production has polished away much of that charm, and bland electro dance anthems like "Let's Reggae All Night" typify the ride.