To relate the story of a band which has no story clearly must involve a slight amount of background (and no small amount of sleight of hand). A South American venture involving a young group from São Paulo, a sudden sense of urgency and movement—without a proper narrative, how could it happen? Where to begin? The official press release offers scattered insight, and translated from the original Portuguese, it remains a lively romp around the English language:
“Taking the fact of not knowing how to play their instruments as a challenge for creativity, the group started to risk small shows in the night clubs that feed São Paulo underground.”
Skip back to São Paulo, circa 2003: A band comes together not with any presumptions or typical formulas, but by meeting at clubs and photologs (some sort of social networking sites focused on sharing photos and video, and apparently quite popular in Brazil), deciding to try something new. They meet in basements. They plan. Without knowing how to play the instruments set before them, the experiment begins. One day, a girl forgets her guitar and is given the microphone instead, suddenly able to yell out. It fits. Eventually the group expands into six members strong, a combination of some girls with guitars and one guy trying out new drums; all steadily tumbling into their skills. Handclaps and one crappy keyboard, throwing in beats; tumbling and tumbling again. Fuelled by aggravation towards the empty swagger of faux artists, and to celebrate the un-celebrity, a name was chosen: CSS.
“Lovefoxxx is a very gifted designer, Ana studies cinema, Ira is a fashion designer, Carolina works with graphic design. Luiza is in art school.”
Fast forward to 2006: Over loose beats and quick programming, this group sings in English—as opposed to their native language of Portuguese—and claim that their scene is not São Paulo, but the internet. As evinced by “Meeting Paris Hilton” and “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above,” CSS makes unshakably clear its predilection for the glorification of pop culture. Between funky dancehall and keys that bubble and bounce, lead Lovefoxxx continues to yell and throws down vocals in a way that is wholly unafraid—shameless in the best of ways—and the rest is filled in with wire-thin guitars, swift drums and manic hooks. It is a thick, pulsating thing full of haphazard synths (“Alala”) and a come-on of call and response that tears down any attempt at posturing (“Art Bitch,” “Patins”). An album bursting with its own unique squeaks and pops, it is intensely urgent while remaining cohesive. With fully formed music and entirely fragmentary lyrics, they had truly arrived.
“Each of these nights turns into an adventure. Everything can happen: plastic balls war between the band and the audience, stage divings, panties showing, male underwear threw to the stage (and back), people playing with their backs to the audience the entire show and even people playing seated on the floor in a rare anti-show position.”
CSS’s Cansei de Ser Sexy, or “Tired of Being Sexy,” is their debut for Sub Pop. It is equal parts rock mantra and throwback into something new, transcending boundaries of genre and geography. It careers full speed into dance territory, into the unknown and untouched, to emerge all hot and bothered with wild electro-rock. Pretension? Absent. Friction? Probable. They are the un-pretension: unfinished, exposed, and throwing all they have right at you. It is quick, tightly-wound, unfastened and supreme. Not a sneer but a giggle.
“Not only music, but a new way to live with it. An unfinished group that, unlike preserving itself until getting ‘to the point,’ was bravely showing off, turning everything into style.”
Fashion. Art. Design. Cinema. Panties thrown and received. Micro shorts and dirty legs. How could it happen? It happened like this:
Lovefoxxx – vocals
Adriano Cintra – drums, guitar, vocals, production
Carolina Parra – guitar, drums
Ana Rezende – guitar, harmonica
Luiza Sá – guitar, drums, keys
Iracema Trevisan – bass “Lick lick lick my art tit.” – CSS