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Record Review: Cansei de Ser Sexy’s La Liberación

By / Posted on 29 August 2011

La LiberaciónThe sophomore slump is cliche. Fact of the matter is, most bands lucky enough to find an audience with their debut tend not to veer too far away from home on their second effort. The third album is where you really learn what has become of the artist: how fame has affected them personally, what truly matters to them now that they’re no longer starving for attention, whether they still have any stories left to tell or if it was all just desperation that made them ever so fascinating in the first place. Just look at the similarity between the Strokes’ first two albums and the drastic shift in quality (both production and inspiration) on the third. The same could be said of No Doubt, Bush, Love is All, or even Britney Spears. The third album is where an artist proves whether they truly are brilliant or if they’ve just fizzled out.

Cansei de Ser Sexy have fizzled out. The Brazilian dance-rock quintet’s third album, La Liberación, comes across more like frontwoman Lovefoxxx’s solo debut, as all eleven tracks are driven by the shape and movement of her vocals, with simplistic pop-rock backing her up as though the band had only learned to play via Nirvana covers. The lone song with any notable instrumental melody is “Red Alert,” which features beloved post-rock hip-hop instrumentalists Ratatat, so that’s to be expected.

The band’s 2006 self-titled debut showed a hodgepodge of inspirations and styles, but was largely a post-dance punk collection of instant party anthems, with crunchy guitars, steady synth blips, and gallons of personality. 2008′s Donkey favored more traditional new wave song structures, but maintained the guitar/drums/synth party rock sound and an overall atmosphere of “fuck our problems, let’s keep partying.” There was less of a sense of immediacy, but the overall vibe was the same. La Liberación, on the other hand, reeks of a collection of diary poems written in the back of a turbos, far away from all of the elements that inspired the band in the first place.

“City Grrl” is a lazily slopped-together Ke$ha club thumper, “You Could Have It All” could be a b-side from any number of electronic bands that used to like Kylie Minogue, and lead single “Hits Me Like A Rock” is the kind of poorly conceived techno reggae that makes both genres cringe with shame. Compared to earlier material, the entirety of La Liberación lacks percussion, any sort of driving force to keep the energy going anywhere but down. The album is a marked downfall in the career of a once-exciting and promising new voice, a negative mark we hope to soon seen reversed lest all goodwill be lost.

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Derrick Sanskrit has produced critically-acclaimed work as an artist and writer for Nerve, Babble, Pitchfork, The Onion and the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, among others. He founded The Pop Aesthetic during the coldest months of his life in 2010.