CSS – Planta (SQE)

The Brazilian electro-rockers reignite the party flame, but fail to expand horizons

Released Jun 10th, 2013 via SQE Music / By Clementine Lloyd
CSS – Planta (SQE) CSS are back! And still tired of being sexy, though there is no real remedy for this in evidence of the way they write their tunes. Amid husky whisperings from resident minx Lovefoxxx and sultry synth combined with hardened club beats, there breathes an unmistakable 80s power pop vibe, opaqued by those upbeat underground permutations that the CSS gang are acquainted with.

Tracks like ‘Honey’ and ‘Into The Sun’ hold court with synthetic notes moving over the brittle beats, like a light wind flowing throughout. ‘Into The Sun’ has a less atomic vibe with its infectious chorus and lyrics: “I’m moving forward, fuck everyone”. Moving deeper into the power pop ether with ‘Too Hot’, Lovefoxxx’s vocals channel Roxette in their sweetness and power. The theme of young, powerful lust combines perfectly with the undercurrents of sinister bass notes and infectious streams of high frequency, undulating guitar riffs.

‘Teenage Tiger Cat’ continues along this playful path, but is more assertive in its resounding beat repetition. Add to that a convoy of lyrics (“rowdy, rowdy wooohooowoooo!”) and it’s given a harder edge that mixes well with ‘Dynamite’, a track that is unashamedly brash and punchy, even in its title.

‘Frankie Goes To Hollywood’ acts as an homage to LA, where the album was written and recorded. Waxing nostalgic over a distant friendship, the laidback beat recreates that breezy Californian attitude, traversing the streets and its basketball and volleyball courts. This could be one to listen to on Venice beach, should you feel so inclined. Bound up with the LA image, ‘Hangover’, with its “summer in space” vibe, as described by Lovefoxxx herself, is joined by a collaboration with Tim Armstrong of Rancid fame. Complete with ska sensibility, alive with reverb, trumpets and elastic beats, the dub element is also in session. As a whole, the track has a sonar quality, leaving you feeling as though you have indeed just been amped out to space.

Waving us off with ‘Faith in Love’, the CSS clan shy away from their normal punchy beats, preferring a more sober number. With slammed piano keys, the track sounds almost dirge-like, though lyrics are sweet and soft, stating, “you give me something so beautiful…I get caught up in so much excitement, it makes me burn. Can you see the light…I have faith in love.” The sense of gathering speed lends more urgency, while the crescendo of voices just out of ears’ reach surround you in ominous undertones. An unnerving number to leave us on, for sure.

Whilst this record doesn’t give any revelatory experiences to grapple with, the sugary pop feel harking back to the 80s golden age of girls is a real pleasure treasure. The left-field tracks lurking in the bounds of dark fragility act as little niches of darkness to make the lighter seem brighter - and it works. The album’s closer is rather a curve-beast, but if you were to play this at the breaking dawn of a heavy night before, you would be congratulated. All else is fodder for the start of the carnage. Enjoy!