To celebrate 20 years producing left field heavy rock music, Sub Pop this month release bookended albums of a sort. The super expanded version of Mudhoney’s Superfuzz Bigmuff (seven songs have become 32!) is released simultaneously with their excelent new release The Lucky Ones which sees Mark Arm and co. back in Stooges territory. But it says a lot about the forward looking nature of the label, let alone their slight playfulness, is that the most eagerly anticipated release of the year is certainly Donkey, the sophomore effort by CSS a mainly female, Brazillian disco post punk band.

Their debut Cansei De Ser Sexy quite rightly got everyone in a froth two years ago and the ubiquitous nature of tracks like ‘Let’s Make Love And Listen To Death From Above’ mean that the pressure was obviously on. On first listen (and perhaps this is not helped by the negative connotations of the title) it deosn’t make for very impactful listening at all. There is no intro as bewitching and bewildering as ‘CSS Suxxx’, no obvious massive chart smash and nothing as unhinged and laugh out loud funny as ‘Meeting Paris Hilton’. This said after several more listens it proves to be something of a slow burner.

  1. Jager Yoga

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Warners are distributing this for Sub Pop which means that all of the rough edges have been smoothed off. Perversely this entire album obviously cost a lot of money to make but actually sounds much cheaper than the debut. This is a good song but sounds more like a demo or a band heavily influenced by them. It’s as if someone in a boardroom has pointed to a pie chart and pointed to the big wedge that says New Young Pony Club.

  1. Rat Is Dead (Rage)

This was the first single free to download from the band’s website and one of a clutch of really great songs included. It is a straight up indie rocker that has more than a hint of the Bossanova era Pixies of it, if the fat man had have relinquished control and let a Hispanic Kim Deal take over for a bit. It’s a Tarantino-esque revenge fantasy with Lovefoxx imagining herself killing a man who has hurt her best friend.

  1. Reggae All Night

Another strong song, harking back to the debut in style at least with hyper kinetic ‘Burning Down The House’ keyboard stabs and Chicago house keyboard line over a standard issue post punk disco back line. Reggae doesn’t feature heavily but a cher style vocoder and synn drums do.

  1. Give Up

This is the first sure fire clue that some disco hating alien has kidnapped the real CSS and and replaced them with slightly bored session musicians and set of Government issue instructions on how to be New Rave/Indie. It also sounds a little bit like the B52s which is not and never has been a good thing.

  1. Left Behind

By this track I’m starting to notice that not only have all the rough edges been sanded down but so have the feedback, the swearing and the hot under the collar sauce. This track especially sounds . . . neutered. Like some kind of exercise in making slick, sexless FM friendly pop from the late 80s by Debbie Gibson or someone of her ilk.

  1. Beautiful Song

None of the actual songs here are particularly bad, it’s just the production that has kicked a hole in the side of it and this is no different. Jaunty New Order guitar lines and a wibbly theremin still don’t add to the fact that somehow you feel cheated. The name doesn’t help either because not only does it suggest a lack of imagination but it is a slight over exaggeration. ‘Pretty Nice Song’ might have been more appropriate.

  1. How I Became Paranoid

This is fucking weird and not in a good way. It sounds like Roxette covering a big room Ibiza trance anthem. Urrgggh! Turn it off!

  1. More

Now this is more like it. The best song on the album and a surefire single. A real Trevor Horn slick take on the Tom Tom Club. A ‘Borderline’ era Madonna chorus urging us to start the dance and some Debbie Harry issue rapping to boot. Awesome.

  1. I Fly

A thankfully screeching rocker with up tight New Wave Knack overtones that sees Lovefoxx being reborn as an insect who is buzzing round her boyfriend’s room. She keeps on trying to fly into his mouth. Why never becomes precisely clear.

  1. Believe Achieve

Finally a little bit of boutique feedback creeps onto this track. This and an echoing synth line liven up a track that meanders rather than pummels. All in all, it really feels like Ira Trevisan made the right decision to quite recently.

  1. Air Painter

Another good one this. It sounds very much like those young lads the Klaxons have dropped by the studio to add some ecstatic backing vocals giving it the feel of ‘Golden Skans’.

Anyone wanting to hear ‘Rat Is Dead (Rage)’ should visit the official CSS website.

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