CSS is a tricky band. As easily likeable for its punchy dance-rock as it is dismissible for its lyrical detachment, the Brazilian act does little to shift that acuity on the new La Liberación. The album opens warmly enough: “I Love You” is the cutesy CSS from 2006’s Cansei De Ser Sexy, punctuated with noncommittal lines like “The rain is falling on my head / Bringing thoughts it never had / Like love and shit.” Following that, the dancehall-inflected “Hits Me Like A Rock” is a cushy out-the-gate hit (and first single) that makes good use of Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie. His polished delivery is a smart contrast to lead vocalist Lovefoxxx’s much higher and rougher pitch.
A few tracks beyond that, though, the album seems to unwittingly plateau. The middle is a muddle of neutral rhythms and indistinguishable choruses. Even the title track has a listlessness about it that would seem to belie its punky, guitar-driven refrains. But this is CSS, after all—a band that is much better known for its catchy, singular hits and dance floor remixes than it is for its studio albums. La Liberación certainly shows the band’s potential as a shimmering and chaotic live act, but it doesn’t do much else. The third album for any group is a hard one. And where others might have taken this as their moment to sink or swim, CSS has chosen—either wisely or ambivalently—to just float along.