Album Review: CSS – Planta
Sans multi-instrumentalist/producer Adriano Cintra, Brazil’s now all-female CSS
decided to pack up their gear and head to Los Angeles to record their fourth full-length endeavor, Planta
. This new setting made it easy for the dance-punk collective to maintain their sunny SÃ£o Paulo disposition while recruiting talent to fill the considerable void of founding member Cintra. Tapping TV on the Radio guitarist Dave Sitek to serve as producer, the ever-sensual Lovefoxxx and co. have toned down the new rave zeal of their earlier efforts for the refined mayhem of acts like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Santigold — acts who have also formerly enlisted the production talents of Sitek.
A talented multi-instrumentalist himself, Sitek has added emphasis to the bottom end to juxtapose the childlike vocals of Lovefoxxx. Whether seemingly reading from her teenage diary (“Honey”), quipping about the toll of the recession on twenty-somethings (“Frankie Goes to Hollywood”), or growling (“Teenage Tiger Cat”), there’s a charming innocence in Lovefoxxx’s delivery; however, over 40 minutes, her pitch can be as agitating as infantile begging. Just as that boundary is about to be broken, quirky analog runs or lengthy grooves surface as a diversion from the prevailing upper-register.
Rancid’s Tim Armstrong and Beth Ditto of Gossip also support CSS in developing a broader sonic palette. Originally meant as a reggae single, “Hangover” (co-written by Armstrong) lands as an experimental indietronica selection littered with Caribbean brass, digital claps, and liquid bass blips. Ditto’s duet with Lovefoxxx combines with a raw bass line and driving psych-guitar on “Dynamite” a mid-disc lo-fi gem that is primed to be a dancefloor burner when CSS hit the road this summer. Even among these highs, the pairing of Lovefoxxx and Sitek has resulted in a few highly combustible selections which burn themselves out quickly and with little lasting effect.
Essential Tracks: “Hangover”, “Dynamite”