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Music Review

Screams and somersaults from CSS

By Matt Parish
Globe Correspondent / October 25, 2011

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What caught lead singer Lovefoxxx’s attention midway through CSS’s set at the Paradise Sunday night wasn’t a chant or overzealous dancing (though there was plenty of both) but one girl’s porcelain complexion.

“Oh my God, can we see you a little better?’’ she said, halting the band and pulling the fan up onstage for a better look. The crowd screamed. “Look at that skin - God! Oh well, you’re young,’’ she said.

For a rock band that constantly travels internationally, CSS (which stands for “Cansei de Ser Sexy,’’ Portuguese for “Tired of Being Sexy’’) runs a pretty loose show. It’s a six-piece outfit, but most of the energy is focused on Lovefoxxx (Luísa Hanae Matsushita), who’s equal parts Cherie Currie, Salma Hayek, and the old, cherubic Christina Ricci. Matsushita spent most of the time onstage giving her daisy dukes a workout with aggressive cheerleader maneuvers and rude chants, but she also shouldered the proceedings like the chaperone of a girls-night-out.

CSS, which trekked here again from its home in São Paulo (Boston audiences also saw CSS this spring when it opened for Sleigh Bells), just put out a third album, “La Liberación.’’ The group has had trouble matching the hype from its 2006 self-titled debut, on which it displayed a brash inexperience that was rude and fun. The band’s subsequent steps toward maturity have appeared drab, and the first record is starting to seem like a long time ago.

At the Paradise, though, CSS came out blazing with a barrage of spiky new cuts that melded heavy house party beats with gnarly guitar and a kind of rapping that recalls Blondie’s stab at it in “Rapture.’’ Matsushita careened between her bandmates, who looked like an updated version of ’70s teen punkettes the Runaways (guitarist Louisa Sá has Joan Jett’s swagger down). She alternated screams with spoken put-downs aimed at pretentious art students and stale boyfriends.

“I’m too young to feel like an old lady,’’ Matsushita pouted during one song. Later, as if to prove it, she somersaulted onto the stage from the floor.

Le Tigre side project MEN performed ahead of CSS. JD Samson herked and jerked through a dozen Devo dance moves over a lean attack of electro anthems, LGBT screeds, and Occupy Boston shout-outs. Ex-Gowns crooner Erika Anderson’s new EMA project opened with a series of numbing mood swings.

Matt Parish can be reached at mattparish@gmail.com.

CSS With MEN and EMA

At: Paradise Rock Club, Sunday