When flamboyant upstarts CSS released their self titled debut back in 2005 it would be fair to say that odds on them reaching album number four were slim to say the least. ‘Planta’ is their first record since the departure of multi-instrumentalist Adriano Cintra and sees the ever dependable Dave Sitek (TV On The Radio) take over on production duties. And as we’ve come to expect from the band it leaves barely a genre stone unturned, an eclectic mix of reggae, pop, electronica and punk.
Horn-fuelled lead single ‘Hangover’ is a reggae tinged delight; anyone who fails to smile at the ‘let’s get happy drinking Bloody Mary, I don’t want to be your sour cherry’ couplet should be ashamed. Amidst the pop melée there is the chunky ‘Dynamite’ which starts off with the sound of coughing before an invasion of dirty guitar licks and distorted synths.
‘Into The Sun’ starts off as a hummable little number with its summery ‘driving away into the sun, I’m looking forward’ hook before starting to weird out. Vocals pitch up and beats fizzle and crack before the drop gives way to some New Order-esque guitar work. It may sound chaotic, but this is a song bursting with ideas and a welcome antidote to the blandness of much of CSS’ recent output. On a completely different stylistic tip is ‘Faith In Love’, an ambitious piano-led closer which gradually builds as the cries of ‘can you see the light?’ are delivered with increasing intent. Layers of sound pile on top of each other before a bewildering mix of half sung/half spoken voices and electronic fuzz gatecrash your eardrums. It’s the sound of a band stepping out of their comfort zone and a metaphorical two fingered salute to anyone who sees them as style over substance.
Fortunately these Brazilian mavericks haven’t sacrificed the playful sense of humour which made us fall in love with them in the first place. From the ending of ‘The Hangout’, which sees Lovefoxxx chatting up a guy in a nightclub, to the growling animal noises of ‘Teenage Tiger Cat’, it’s the sound of a band finally having fun again. Although ‘Girlfriend’ and ‘Sweet’ seem rushed and lacking in ideas, and a smattering of lyrics that would be cringeworthy in other hands, they just about get away with it.
‘Planta’ is the sound of a band rejuvenated, a diverse yet cohesive effort that tightens the sonic screws without losing any of the warmth and identity they’ve managed to create for themselves.