And who said I did not like pop girl groups? All right, I admit it, I dislike the vast majority of them, but I love The Pipettes. Releasing their first album in four years, “Earth vs. The Pipettes” (6 September 2010 in the UK, 13 September 2010 in the USA as a download, 16 November 2010 as a hardcopy in the USA), you would be justified if you consider this a debut album of sorts and not a sophomore effort. No longer a trio, The Pipettes is now a duo (of sisters Ani and Gwenno Saunders) and The Cassettes (their all male back-up band), but the duo does not consist of any of the original members. So, of course, I completely understand anyone’s apprehension getting this “faux-sophomore” album, but it is as fun as some of best pop that has come out of the UK in the past few decades – think of a Phil Spector mentality smashed up with Bananarama and Wham! (Did I actually mention Wham!?)
But it may be hard to get over the fact that there are no original members; it leaves us with one question: who is this band? The vocal arrangements, now as a duo instead of a trio, are different. How will the older songs sound live? Will they really capture that late 50s, early 60s feel that girl groups were known for? Will it have the same fluidity that they had? And how about The Cassettes? With a new drummer behind the kit, how will that affect the music? How will that affect the live performances? The questions are endless, and if you follow them, you are bound to get wrapped up in tangents and forget the music. So here are two quick solutions that will work. First, think of The Pipettes as being more of an ensemble than a band and then you do not have to question the line-up at all. Or, if you don’t like the first option, second, think of this as a new band, or better yet, The Pipettes 2.0. Ultimately, what matters most is the final product, the music (what we get to enjoy), not the revolving door of membership (an internal matter).
The first indication that your doubts about the music were misplaced comes when you realize that you have been singing along; you hate yourself for this, you tell yourself, “I am supposed to hate this crap,” but you shrug your shoulders and sing along. Call it a guilty pleasure (or a shameful indulgence), this is music that’s infectious. Earlier this year “Our Love Was Saved By Spacemen” made its way to the Internet – though not the first female duo to do a sci-fi theme (remember Shakespears’ Sister catwoman?), there was a definite sense of camp, but a more sophisticated sound than expected with eurodisco tinges everywhere. “Stop The Music,” the second video and first proper single, followed. A bit more of the Phil Spector mentality, that eurodisco tinge, and even more dramatic arrangements than the previous release. And then “Call Me” was released … and all I can say is “Viva la Pipettes!”
The three videos are a perfect indication of what you get. In different combinations, the songs on “Earth vs. The Pipettes” are unbridled pop, eurodisco revival, sophisticatedly dramatic arrangements, and fun music meant to be partied to and enjoyed, not pondered over endlessly to boredom. (Two none single tracks to really listen to include “Thank You” and “Finding My Way,” my favorite Pipettes’ song.) The Pipettes are one of the few bands that understand that the fun should not stop after the summer; this is an uplifting autumn album. You may miss the girls from Brighton in polkadot dresses, but these Cardiff gals have something special in their own right; at the same time, The Cassettes prove their worth in gold with impeccable musicality. This is my guilty pleasure of the autumn and it should be yours as well!
1. Call Me
2. Ain’t No Talking
3. Thank You
4. I Need A Little Time
6. I Always Planned to Stay
7. Stop The Music
8. I Vibe U
9. Our Love Was Saved By Spacemen
10. Finding My Way
11. Captain Rhythm
12. From Today
Keep up with The Pipettes at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.
Here are the videos for “Our Love Was Saved By Spacemen,” “Stop The Music,” and “Call Me from their YouTube Channel: thepipettesofficial.