Cansei De Ser Sexy - Donkey
Paul Cook 06/07/2008
Having established themselves as one of today's liveliest and most entertaining alternative rock/pop outfits, CSS return with another 11 track dose of infectious disco-tinged electro-pop, surpassing on many levels the innovation and magnetism of their eponymous debut album. Their debut album was grounded heavily in the electro/dance ethic of heavy, thumping bass lines and the odd wistfully distorted guitar riff. Donkey on the other hand, although still a refreshing and again exciting, enjoyable album, develops the vocals, lyrics and indie-tainted riffs making for a more diversified, addictive CSS experience all round. Having been produced by established producer Mark Stent (responsible for material by artists including Goldfrapp, Depeche Mode, Björk and Massive Attack) the new album is evidence of CSS's maturation a into highly polished and developed musical collaboration.
Kicking things off is Jager Joga, a track which is possibly the most ideal crossover track betweenCansei De Ser Sexy and Donkey. Jager Joga fuses the early rhythms and thumping beats of the band's debut with the playful guitar lines and 80's electronic backing that begins to embody their sophomore effort. This is then followed by the lively, punk/pop stylings of Rat is Dead (Rage) which will soon be a firm fan favourite. Here the band's new lease of instrumental life takes hold, reinvigorating the CSS we've come to love with a fantastically simple yet catchy riff and spot-on vocals from Lovefoxx.
Reggae All night is a nostalgic 80's disco-pop come contemporary electro track blending an abundance of sounds from the complex mixture of synthesized stabs to the dark, solid bass lines throughout. Then it's followed by the album's stunningly catchy Give Up, comprised of typically on-the-nose dual vocals from Zerba and Adriano Cintra, a contemporary indie-pop riff and wonderful sing-a-long lyrics to boot. Purposeful and upbeat, Give Up, no doubt a future chart hit, embodies everything CSS are; fun, lyrical and utterly infectious. Left Behind, the band's 2nd release (due 14th July) from the album is another strong track which with it's clearly delivered lyrics and soaring electro chorus should make it into the charts, clubs and bars alike.
So, you're half way into Donkey and thinking that it's either an absolute cracker of a follow-up or expecting it to fall at the next hurdle somewhere. Unfortunately, like Cansei De Ser Sexy the album does start to slip down hill somewhat after a 4 or 5 track block of captivating, refreshing electro-pop. Aside from it's Cure-like intro, Beautiful Song is just lacking in something different or innovative, sounding as though it belongs on the debut rather than Donkey. How I Became Paranoid is a slight improvement and although the riff feels a little simplistic, it's a dance-pop record through and through and the delivery and quality of the lyrics alongside the electronic melodies make it another highly enjoyable track. Likewise, Move is a similarly enjoyable track but admittedly without the charm and catchiness of many other CSS numbers is slightly disappointing.
The album then picks up the tempo and hammers back on the electro-indie pedal to finish on a high. I Fly is a full throttle electro-punk powerhouse, with whimsical, light-hearted lyrics, a funky riff and cutting guitar line to boot. Like Give Up, I Fly deserves to be released as a single and position highly in the charts for its pure fun and perfected blend of genres. Believe Achieve is the closest CSS come to reinvigorating 80's techno dance and is well written but overly simplistic and plays out too slowly for such an energetic band. Air Painter is the conclusion to the album and is somewhat of a watered down rendition of what the band are capable of and what relative newcomers to the scene Crystal Castles are brilliant at. The riff strums along in the background without really getting going and the vocals sound tired. The drums are also lack lustre in the closing track unable to drive the song forward holding the track back to a disappointing and joyless pace.
Donkey is a fantastic album. Without featuring an instant classic like Let's Make Love and Listen to Death from Above some may prefer the debut but given the follow-up's diverse mixture of genres, styles and tempo's and featuring some fantastic indie/electro-pop tracks it will certainly please the majority. 80% of the album is simply addictive and given that the debut was somewhat an album of two halves, Donkey is a triumph on all fronts.
Donkey is released on Warner Bros. Records on 21st July.