“Donkey,” the sophomore album by Brazilian critical darlings CSS, kicks off with the line, “Oh my God, it’s so hot.”
It’s a fitting observation, since “Donkey,” which was released on July 25th, is a quintessential summer record. Judging from their music, life for the members of CSS is a nonstop party. But what else would you expect from a group hailing from Sao Paulo, where the average winter temperature is 71 degrees? “Donkey” transports the listener into their world, even if it is for just 40 minutes.
In 11 concise tracks, with none surpassing the four-minute mark, the album provides the ideal soundtrack for a day at the beach, backyard barbecue, or any number of summer activities that involve dancing, drinking and overall indulgence. There’s nary a ballad in sight, and mononymous 24-year-old lead singer Lovefoxxx (nee Luisa Matsushita) gleefully chants lyrics like, “I’m gonna jump onto the table / And dance my ass off â€˜til I die.”
Those sentiments and others come courtesy of bassist/vocalist Adrian Cintra, the band’s sole male member and chief songwriter, who also produced “Donkey.” (The other three members are keyboardists/guitarists Ana Rezende dos Anjos, Carolina Parra and Luiza Sa).
CSS has gained a steady international following thanks to its widely-hailed debut, and performances with artists including Gwen Stefani and Ladytron. Casual U.S. listeners may be familiar with the band thanks to the song “Music is My Hot, Hot Sex,” which was featured in an iPod Touch ad last year (but may be mistakenly thought of by some as being titled “Music is My Boyfriend”).
Their acronym stands for “Cansei de Ser Sexy,” which means “Tired of Being Sexy” in Portuguese. (The band borrowed their name from a phrase Beyonce once allegedly used to describe herself.)
Lovefoxxx, a pop icon in Europe and South America who is engaged to Simon Taylor-Davis of the group Klaxons, sings all the songs on “Donkey” in her non-native English. But her Portuguese accent adds a special flavor to lines like “Kiss you in the photo booth / Duct tape you in my roof.”
Opener “Jager Yoga” includes delightfully nonsensical phrases like “Desperate Living, Hairspray / Baltimore with Tanqueray / Live your life John Waters’ way.” “Let’s Reggae All Night” makes it hard to resist the urge to do just that, as Lovefoxxx suggests, “If you are my friend, we can drink in the afternoon / That’s cool.” Even on the more serious “Rat is Dead (Rage),” the band’s having much more fun than should be allowed on a song about an abusive relationship.
On the “I Love the â€˜80s” sounding “Move,” complete with syncopated hand claps, Lovefoxxx repeats, “You’d better get your move on.” It’s an invitation that, throughout “Donkey,” is impossible to ignore.