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Saturday, January 31, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 23.0° F  Partly Cloudy
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Donkey (Sub Pop)

Have you ever listened to a song and thought to yourself, what would ever inspire someone to write this? Back in high school, I pondered that every time I took on another blissful spin of the Styx classic "Mr. Roboto." Even though I liked that song, its intellectual origins seemed unfathomable.

And so it is with select tracks on Donkey, like the curious "Let's Reggae All Night." The tune weaves together a frenetic dance club beat and synthesized voice-over, calmly proposing: If you are my friend you can shake my milk and drink, and I can do the same for you. Yeah!

CSS is a Brazilian electro-pop band that debuted in 2006 with a snide, sexy and stylish dance record, Cansei de Ser Sexy. This sophomore effort is dramatically uneven. On the positive side, CSS show their capacity for hard-driving psychedelic dance pop that's reminiscent of the best Imperial Teen. That's the case on "Rat Is Dead," the best track on the disc.

But CSS fall flat when they abandon traditional song structures for free-form electronics. That's true on "Move," where the synth punctuation comes off as pointless and silly.

CSS show too much promise to be dismissed, but Donkey is clearly a flawed recording. Here's hoping next time out the band will take their own advice and "get their move on."

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