CSS Cansei de Ser Sexy

[Sub Pop; 2006]

Styles: dance rock, neo-electro, (new) new wave
Others: Le Tigre, Peaches, Out Hud

The dog days of summer are here. Stale, heated air hangs about like a lingering relative outstaying his/her welcome long after Thanksgiving has passed. Sunset offers little relief as the day's sun has so warmed the earth that it just seems to be oozing with humidity even as the temperature drops a few notches. Yes, at such a time, it could be such a welcome respite for a refreshing musical breeze to blow from the tropics up onto the ol' North American rock radar screen. Lo and behold, Brazil's latest sonic export: CSS.

Before taking things too seriously, it's important to realize just how cheeky a group this is. CSS is an initialism for Cansei de Ser Sexy, a name derived from an offhand remark made by Beyonce (it means "tired of being sexy" in Portuguese). The group sports such song titles as "Let's Make Love and Listen to Death from Above" and "Meeting Paris Hilton." With these points divulged, this crew may seem to be little more that pop culture collagists, and while that impression is somewhat accurate, it in no way does full justice. To be sure, they are of the moment. Their popularity in Brazil, and eventually internationally, grew through postings on photo- and file-sharing sites; however, this doesn't mean that they are only for the moment. That's where the music comes in.

A jubilant mix of electro, rock, and smatterings of various other styles ranging from dance to punk, CSS's music is almost immediately infectious and surprisingly poppy. Adriano Cintra's drums are wild in their attack on the more ferocious cuts like "CSS Suxxx" and "Artbitch," yet incredibly refined on the more electro-dance numbers like "Alala," "Let's Make Love and Listen to Death from Above," and "Meeting Paris Hilton." On those latter tracks, the dirty synth lines help to keep things from feeling rigid, and the slightly broken English used by Lovefoxx in her lyrics make the ultimate effect very charming. 'Charm' is a good word to describe this entire affair, for no matter how angry vocalist Lovefoxx may seem (especially on "Artbitch" and "Fuck Off Is Not the Only Thing You Have to Show"), she always provides a juicy hook for a listener to want to sing - an act easier said than done given her propensity for cramming an inordinate number of syllables into a phrase. See, there's the charm again.

Even if their messages are a little convoluted, alternately celebrating and decrying pop culture and art, their existence stands as a testament to the perseverance of the DIY movement. This isn't a conglomeration of expertly trained musicians; this is a cluster of energetic and creative folks who use some widely available instruments and tools to express themselves with passion and abandon. In hearing this debut, one gets the feeling that there's still a lot of energy left in these ladies (and one gentlemen), but even more importantly, that they'll inspire hundreds of other restless youngsters to get a band together and bang it out for themselves.

1. CSS Suxxx
2. Patins
3. Alala
4. Let's Make Love and Listen to Death from Above
5. Art Bitch
6. Fuck Off Is Not the Only Thing You Have to Show
7. Meeting Paris Hilton
8. Off the Hook
9. Alcohol
10. Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex
11. This Month, Day 10