A lot has changed since the release of bold, buoyant, electro-pop single “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above” a whopping seven years ago. In the mid-aughts, new rave (or neu rave, if you felt like being fancy) was a brand new phenomenon; a bright, youth-oriented genre touted by the NME as the next big thing, which it kind of was– for a while, at least. As quickly as bands like Klaxons, New Young Pony Club, and of course, CSS busted out the lasers and glitter confetti, they were soon tucked away, slowly fading into neon-tinted obscurity.
CSS famously stands for Cansei de Ser Sexy, meaning “I’m tired of being sexy,” and on their fourth album, Planta, they finally live up to their name. After years of infectious hooks, colorful melodies, and non-stop dance parties, the Brazilian band are back, but with a far more refined, subdued approach. For better or worse, this is not your mama’s new rave; gone are the days of sweaty synth freak-outs and flashy, fuorescent sounds. On Planta, CSS are all grown up, but where did all the fun go?
Planta, recorded in Los Angeles, is the first LP without founding member and CSS mastermind Adriano Cintra. Produced by Dave Sitek and featuring collaborations from Rancid’s Tim Armstrong and The Gossip singer Beth Ditto, there’s a whole lot happening on Planta, but none of it translates as well as the band’s previous endeavors. This polished feel works well on tracks like “Girlfriend,” a shimmery display of São Paulo psych, and the streamlined, buzzing “Honey,” but most others could use another coat or two.
By far the album’s standout is “Dynamite,” a new wave duet with Ditto that feels perfectly primed for the dance floor. A solid bass line and Karen O style vocals (“I go crazy at NIGHT!”) helps the track stand apart from the rest of Planta. “Dynamite” also allows singer Lovefoxxx to return to her carefree, uninhibited self– the party girl we know and love.
As for the rest of the tracks; they’re probably a step in the right direction– it is 2013, after all– but they’re still a bit too buttoned-up for what we’ve come to expect from CSS. What’s next, a house in the suburbs and a corporate car? I may be all grown up, too, but I’ll take a party jam over static, stuffy sounds anytime.