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CSS
Album review: "La Liberacion"

"La Liberacion," the new album from Brazilian sextet CSS, feels like the beginning of a hangover. Or maybe like waking up after a bender and still being a bit drunk.

The Brazilian party girls (and guy) have forged a reputation as outrageous hedonists; their first two albums were full of sweaty, sultry and spunky dance pop. But on this uneven album, the band has dialed down its bratty rave aesthetic and delved into a morning-after frame of mind, incorporating more relaxed tempos and less aggressive guitars.

The reverb-laden "You Could Have It All" and the piano-driven "Partners in Crime" groove along patiently, and the rockers (like the title track) generally lack the searing edge of CSS's previous work. Ironically, hip-hop experiment "Red Alert" is one of the band's least urgent songs to date.

The old CSS isn't completely gone, and the tracks that recall the old material are still the most enjoyable. Lead single "Hits Me Like a Rock" features light reggae rhythm and bright vocal melodies from charismatic leader Lovefoxxx. And "City Grrrl" is a grimy, club-ready track that invokes Ke$ha with a Brazilian accent and a less self-conscious bad attitude.

Is it possible (or desirable) to keep up the party girl schtick indefinitely? Probably not. But perhaps Lovefoxxx and company can find an interesting way to age gracefully.

--Dan Miller, Oct. 21, 2011