Dance Grooves, Puddle Deep
Brazil’s electro pop characters CSS have been making “fun” dance music for over 10 years now, but it doesn’t seem to be getting any smarter. Perhaps it’s the language barrier, but the majority of songs on CSS’s fourth album, Planta, present more superficial scenarios of being young, female and ready for a party– but the record does so in clumsy language that falls flat. This is unfortunate, as the beats and arrangements are often very exciting and quite danceable.
“Honey” starts off with sweet synths and a great beat, but quickly falls into lust-love song clichés, including “I go through my journals and your name is mentioned so tenderly / I wanna lay in your bed to wake up with the smell of your hair / all over my face,” which really do read better than they’re delivered. Eventually when we get to the chorus (“Where is my sweetheart, my honey / keeping on the light in the dark, so sunny”) we find words which were probably chosen because they rhymed.
Bringing to mind Berlin’s “The Metro,” “Into the Sun” is a tad better with its proclamations of starting a new day, however “I’m moving forward / fuck everyone” keep things from growing up too much.
“Dynamite” is an exciting “punk” track driven by a crunchy bass, although “like dynamite, the things you like / fire starter, burn baby burn / smoke machine, you know what I mean / break them nuts” leaves you scratching your head rather than bobbing it.
“Too Hot” is glittery fluff pop silliness that seems more like an abstract conceptualizing of sex than any real person’s experience with it: “I need to shower, lay down and rest / when you touch me so deep I feel a fire all over me / it makes me burn like red hot chili/and like a snake I shed my skin.”
To be fair, CSS have had no problem finding an audience over the years, and are internationally famous. And it is undeniable what great music they make. This album is instrumentally fantastic, but so disappointing lyrically. Probably the most cringeworthy lyrics show up on “Teenage Tiger Cat” which documents an array of different animals in a dance club: “Pole dancing polar bears / house pets, dogs and cats / Chinese stars from the zodiac signs / wild animals dance, doesn’t matter what what’s their kind.” Though most people likely aren’t looking to them for intellectual stimulation, if CSS could find a way to raise the literacy bar a little, they could really make a masterpiece.