CSS, ‘Planta’ – Album Review
A year-and-a-half back, CSS were among the headliners of the Culture Collide Festival in Echo Park, and though word is it was a fun show, it seems as if the members of the Brazilian group had a more meaningful experience than anyone else.
Inspired by the festive atmosphere (which Los Angeles is not at all known for), the band packed up and headed for the California sprawl to make 'Planta' with producer David Sitek. (Keep in mind that another Sitek album, Beady Eye’s ‘Be,’ is also out this week, so maybe the real story on indie blogs should be whether Sitek is hurting for cash or something.)
Unlike the Beady Eye album, 'Planta' is not without its charm, and the production is one of the most consistent elements. Sitek manages to avoid his trademarks, and while the single 'Hangover' has a horn section, it notably doesn't sound like the typical Sitek horns. Throughout, 'Planta' sees the TV on the Radio member allowing CSS to maintain their own identity, and beyond offering his technical skills, he doesn't noticeably influence the proceedings.
On 'Planta''s successes and failures alike, CSS seem to be self-aware, sticking with style over substance every time. When Tim Armstrong helps with the songs, it's no sweat, and 'Hangover' is a youthful romp through partying and love. The influence of California is easy to hear on 'Into the Sun,' with singer Lovefoxxx letting herself be inspired by "driving west," her messages to detractors a simple one: "F--- everyone." Yes, she sounds like a pouty teenager, but her Peter Pan reality is better than when she draws from her past.
When they're at their worst, which is too frequent for comfort, CSS seems lost without founding member Adriano Cintra, who left after their last album, 'La Liberación.' The absence of his good-taste barometer is painfully obvious on the B52's-biting 'Dynamite,' the Missing Persons-mimicking 'Teenage Tiger Kick' and the stoned-dub mess 'The Hangout.' Even though these songs insult even the most easygoing of brains, there is a jubilant spirit to them which might appeal to kids that don't know better. You'd think these youngsters could do worse than CSS, but this album introduces a kernel of doubt.