CSS - La Liberacion

2008's Donkey threatened to blow the wheels right off the CSS bus; moderately well received by the ladies and gentlemen of the press, listeners proved less interested in the limp and often lifeless follow up to their international breakthrough. La Liberacion, you imagine, absolutely defines make or break and, hand on heart, they may have just about saved the day, recapturing the mix of bedroom punk and slightly awkward dancefloor efforts that made them the first South American exports of note since Shakira's hips took over the world.

CSS toured a lot in support of their debut, perhaps sapping their energies when it came time to record a second album. Those overseas adventures have left a legacy however, and Lovefoxx and her colleagues have an Empire State of mind: La Liberacion is a New York album, the nightlife, the street level cool and its electro punk heritage. The influence is tangible on 'City Girls' which opens with a flourish of Flamenco guitar, but breaks into Le Tigre Big Apple sass, with Lovefoxx the 13 year old who jealously watches her older brother leave for the streets of Manhattan ("I wish I would dye my hair pink / Put on black lipstick / No-one would give a shit!"). 'Hit Me Like A Rock' has a fun, early MTV lilt and a cameo from Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie. The album's other collaboration, 'Red Alert' - which features NY duo Ratatat - also channels those simpler times, a 'Wordy Rappinghood' for a new breed of hip young things.

'I Love You' is an opening signal of intent, channeling French electro influences into a decent club stomper while 'Echo of Love''s underlying Afrobeat guitars maintain the feel-good vibe. The punker side of the band comes through on the Portugese-language title track and the Strokes-y 'Ruby Eyes'. The biggest surprise may be with 'Partners In Crime', Lovefoxx - her pleasingly accented vocals sitting atop some pretty, rolling piano - takes on the world with her love at her side. It shows CSS can do more complex arrangements when they want and, if they survive long enough to make album number four, here's hoping they have the confidence to really let rip.

La Liberacion is ultimately a rather charming piece. It may not have been on many people's 'most anticipated of 2011' but fans should find much to enjoy and a decent reception could see them hang around a little longer. 2014 World Cup theme tune perhaps? The campaign starts here.

Overall

6

out of 10

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