Sometimes I feel like I'm rapidly turning into one of those crotchety old guys who sits on his porch yelling for kids to get off his lawn. Or, at least I feel that way when it comes to music. Most popular stuff that's played on the radio simply more or less turns my stomach, and it's even becoming rare that a buzz band on the indie scene strikes me either (well, Vampire Weekend did, but it didn't last long). I wasn't exactly thrilled by the debut Cansei De Ser Sexy from CSS, but I was willing to give them another chance.
Really, they've got it all going for them. They're foreign and their group is mostly comprised of women. Their first album was chock full of hooks and took off even more rapidly after one of their songs was featured in an iPhone commercial. Oh, and just for pop purists, every single song on their follow-up Donkey clocks in at between three minutes and fifteen seconds and four minutes in length (many have argued that the perfect pop song is three and a half minutes, so they're certainly hedging their bets).
As rough and tumble as Cansei De Ser Sexy was, Donkey is just as far in the other direction in terms of polish. Eleven songs run a lean forty minutes and is pushed into a shiny dance-pop territory that will certainly garner them some new fans (and perhaps a couple more product placements). Their lyrics still are about as deep as a puddle, and find them singing about drinking in the day ("Jager Yoga") and generally partying and living the rock star life in general. "Left Behind" contains the couplet, "Gonna have some fun there and drink till I pass out / I'm gonna jump up on the tables and dance my ass off till I die."
Okay, so I've probably sung along with lines that are just as cornball and it's obviously not that big of a deal. Musically, things move at a fairly crisp mid-tempo and sort of veer back and forth between having guitar and synth lead. Disco influences come to the foreground on the cowbell-laden "Let's Reggae All Night" and "Move," while "Give Up" and "Rat Is Dead (Rage)" take a more straightforward alt-rock feel. Heck, they even show they can write a surprisingly understated song like "Believe Achieve" and it makes for one of the better songs on the album. In the end, Donkey is about what one might expect from the group for a second album. Those who liked their rough edges the first time around might find themselves a bit disappointed by the new sheen, but they'll likely gain more fans they they lose.