There's little lost in translation when it comes to São Paulo exports Cansei de Ser Sexy. Less a band than an itchy flare-up, the Brazilian sextet (five girls for every guy!) has somehow in the past three years gone from an art-basement fashion diversion all the way to a full-on hip-list infection. Their self-titled U.S. debut on Sub Pop all but seals their — and more seriously, the music world's — tragically fêted fate.
"No, we've never, ever expected anything from this band," explains singer Lovefoxxx in her cutely broken English on the hotel horn from a day off in San Francisco. "The hugest proof for this is in the name, which is the silliest name ever."
That name, frequently abbreviated to a less florid CSS, supposedly stems from a cast-off Beyoncé quote in which the diva declared that she was "tired of being sexy." It's that kind of bootylicious attention to paparazzi detail that makes Lovefoxxx's distracted bursts of observation really pop out of their seedy nightclub settings.
"I went to the bitch/The bitch was hot/She came to me and said, ‘Do you like the bitch, bitch?'" she moans on the trashy post-Moroder anthem "Meeting Paris Hilton." Through the course of the song, she notches up at least 15 more spirited "bitch"es. It's both social commentary and vernacular confusion, one suspects, especially when, on "Art Bitch," Lovefoxxx screams into a wall of blips and feedback, "Lick lick lick my art tit, suck suck suck my art hole."
Is it filthy? Maybe, but there's also the possibility that the leap of languages surrenders itself to a more gutter-friendly idiomatic impulse. Confronted with the idea that she may just be picking up the foul language from the intercultural trickle because it's the fun part, Lovefoxxx lets out a loud laugh.
"Yeah! You got it," she says. "I never realized the amount of sexual content of our songs before doing so many interviews. Then when I realized, I was like, ‘Oh my god! We're dirty bitches!' That's why I don't write in Portuguese, because for me it sounds too serious and deep."
Emerging from a city without a cohesive scene, the band initially played around with a divergent group of bands that they had friends in; soon they found solace on the Internet ("We always say that our scene was the Internet, because that's all the scene we had," says Lovefoxxx). After independently releasing two EPs, CSS became huge enough on the Brazilian music site www.TramaVirtual.com.br that they landed a spot at the 2004 TIM Festival in São Paulo, sharing a stage with Kraftwerk, 2 Many DJ's, PJ Harvey and Primal Scream.
"When we arrived at that point, we were like, ‘Oh my god, this cannot get any better than this!'" Lovefoxxx excitedly recalls. "Then we got signed to a Brazilian label `Trama, who released CSS' first two albums, both of which were cannibalized for the Sub Pop release`, and that, for me it was the top. It was like, ‘Oh my god, this is the top!' And then! Then we got signed with Sub Pop, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is not the top! Because after this, so many things will happen!'"
As exhausting as it all sounds, the band has a way of making it all breeze by on record. Drummer/guitarist/producer/man Adriano Cintra handles most of the foundational duties — rhythms, melodies, etc. — so that the other members can pile their tracks on top. Bathroom-sink splashes of noise, guitar, ambience and disco result, and when the thunderous robotics of the first line "C … S … S … suxx …" boom in, you can rest assured that they don't.
The fans agree; their stateside shows have reportedly turned into twisted extravaganzas of fashion and its removal, a dazzling display of tearing it all apart, underwear to the air.
"Every time we get to a new city, we give each other a look and we say, like, ‘Who could tell?'" says Lovefoxxx. "This is the best work we could ever ask for. The best part of the work is the actual work, when we get to play, and it doesn't feel like work at all."[email protected]