CSS – Donkey


The story goes that Beyoncé Knowles (of Destiny’s Child, Showgirls, and Jay-Z fame) once said she was “tired of being sexy.” Wait, why am I starting a review with Beyoncé? Oh yeah, so an up and coming, electronic pop, Brazilian band found out and thought it was so dumb and funny — at the same time — that they named themselves that. This translates in Portuguese to ‘Cansei de ser sexy.’ Thus, we get the band CSS, the happy go lucky band that pride themselves on fashioning “equal parts dance party, urban circus, and out-and-out chaos.” The irony lies in a band that have delivered one of the least fun albums of 2008.

Songs like “Rat is Dead (Rage)” and “Left Behind” are trite attempts at disco that come undone. They reveal a façade and demeaning approach because of the music’s dull beats, over-polished production (courtesy of Mark “Spike” Stent) and loveless singing by lead singer, Lovefoxxx. The latter song is a synth-processed, computer-driven song that lacks energy and any kind of happiness. Lovefoxxx confusingly sings that she wants to “dance her ass off ‘til she dies,” but what kind of a request is that when the music is this uninspiring?

CSS got a huge boost in late 2007 when their song, “Music is My Hot, Hot Sex,” was featured in an iPod commercial. However, the band had already released the album whose song that came from way before. So they holed up in a studio in Brazil and started work on a new album. The end result is Donkey: a plain, bland collection of songs that don’t go anywhere and whom render entirely forgettable.

What’s even more sad is that unless you asked what CSS stood for, you’d never guess that these were Brazilians making the music. Innovative and creative bands find ways to inject their own cultural leanings into their music but it appears like CSS dismissed that. Assuming that you would get a jolt of South America in Donkey would surely make an ass out of you and me.

The rare joys on the album arise when the band employs all of their instruments as they do on “Beautiful Song.” Complete with a rugged bass and the most melodic guitar line on the entire album, it provides some life into an otherwise robotic album. And even change of paces like the down-tempo, “Let’s Reggae All Night” achieve little in attempting to save the album. Its No Doubt similarities are a misery and the atmospheric 80s sounds and flashes prove that the band doesn’t know what they are trying to convey.

This is a formulated, 11-song album with songs that all clock in under four minutes long. The problems arise with the redundant method of each song following a rigid, verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus structure and they only spiral downhill from here. What you end up with is an album that sounds too samey for its own good and one that is surely one of the year’s biggest disappointments.