We Are the Pipettes (2006)
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We Are the Pipettes A
What a dandy way to start the album! (You don't like me using the word “dandy?” Too bad! “Dandy” is exactly the word to describe these songs, so get used to it!) The song starts a little weird with some garbled voices, but it isn't too long before a thunderous drum beat pipes up and they deliver a simple though terribly catchy and fun melody. It's styled like a '60s girl group pop song (that's the whole idea of this idea). The lyrics are very funny. And they'd probably be true if I ever actually met them.
Pull Shapes A
Oooh, this is excellent, too. The melody is instantly catchy, and the confidence expressed in their vocals are staggering. No wonder this band has its ardent fans! Stylistically this is very similar to a Phil Spector song, and the melody is just about as fantastic as his were. They're really enjoying themselves so much that they even transported themselves into a middle of a screaming crowd of fans.
Why Did You Stay A-
Now that they did their two thunderous opening songs, they're ready to deliver a sweeter, more smoothly flowing song that's, again, right out of the '60s except sounds weirdly fresh and appropriate for 21st century listeners. God, these hooks are wonderful, aren't they? Perhaps not as staggering as the previous two songs, but they're really going at it.
Dirty Mind B
Still good and I like the energy. That huge drum sound really suits it well, which I'm afraid is lost a little bit in the remix. (I almost wonder if the drums were kept loud for the British release has anything to do with the fact that country once embraced Gary Glitter.) I like listening to this and its terrible fun although it doesn't quite have that undeniable charisma of the opening two tracks. The hooks are good, but somewhat forgettable. The energy is what really gets me here.
It Hurts To See You Dance So Well B
More of this good natured music! (It's hard to describe these songs when they're all basically the same idea). The melody doesn't strike me as infectious although the girls do what they do singing-wise to keep it floating off the ground as much as it possibly could. It's a nice song!
Ah yes, here's a nice infectious tune! Just like everything else here, this is bright and fun. Again, this sounds exactly like those old girl group songs did. The introduction, the conclusions are very similar. They didn't seem to fade-out very much back in the old days. It's hard to know if that was because of limiting technology or what... but certainly putting actual *endings* to their songs was the better plan.
A Winter's Sky B-
This is a slower song, and I like their vocal harmonies. Those are nice, as always. But there's just something dull about this song. The melody is fine and has a few nice hooks in it, but they're not quite as potent. They try to dress it up by bringing in a nice string arrangement and the drums go nuts in the chorus, which is interesting I guess. Hm.
Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me B+
The big drums are back! And so are the infectious melodies! Oh, this stuff isn't original whatsoever—especially here as they use one of the more common riffs of the era. They also brought in a sweet, soaring chorus, which has a few solid hooks in it. This is a lot of fun!
Tell Me What You Want A
This isn't particularly different than the others; some of these songs just tend to sparkle more than others. The melody floats a little higher off the ground, and that string section is nicely used. They use that huge Phil Spector-ish instrumentation with the huge string and horn sections. The lusher the better as far as these things are concerned.
Because It's Not Love (But It's Still a Feeling) A-
Yes, another one of these upbeat songs that utterly sparkles. Just like music was back in the old days, you could just tell right away when some of them sparkled and others tanked. There's nothing very scientific about it, which I'm sure frustrated all those studio songwriters! The hooks are as fertile as these girls look. (...I apologize for that... these are exceedingly boring track reviews. Believe me, I'm as bored as you are.)
Ooo! They're trying to get all those Southern Baptists to buy copies of this album so they can burn them in a huge bonfire! Something I hadn't mentioned yet, these lyrical matters are oftentimes rather ribald. Those old songs sure had a lot of pent up sexual energy riling up beneath the surface, but they couldn't express it in the lyrics! ...Well, what makes this upbeat, melodic pop song lesser than the others? I just don't get caught up in it. The instrumentation seems a little bit disconnected. It doesn't have that flow. Maybe the remixed edition fixed some of that. But it also doesn't have the hooks.
One Night Stand B+
Nice! Another bubble gum melody! (Did I mention that these were hard track reviews to write?) Once again, they created a solid pop melody, and I like hearing it. It doesn't make an extreme impression on me, but it makes me happy to hear it for that minute and forty seconds.
Again, this is a solid recreation of those old-type songs! The hooks continue to work well, and this is an extremely pleasant song to listen to. Not one of the more memorable ones, though. The horn section is nicely done, and I like the overall groove of it. (The instrumentation is even hard to write about, because it never rarely does anything *unusual*, and it always sounds nice.)
I Love You A
Ah yes, a memorable finish! They know the value of the final impression! This is one of the more sweeter, beautifully melodic songs on the album with that melody that *sparkles*. Their vocal layering is playful, providing not only harmony but a more feathery texture. The strings are very pretty, too.
Earth Vs. The Pipettes (2010)
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Call Me A
Well this is a good song! I'll put myself on the bandwagon of people who found their Phil Spector songs more endearing than the disco ones, but … well as long as they're making disco songs, they're being pretty darn good at it. The beat is fun and toe-tapping, the melody is infectious, and they're having fun with all those calculator synths. ...I've gotta be somewhat cynical and assume that they wrote this mainly to make $1 million out of ring tones (which is apparently the only way the music biz makes money these days), but I suppose it's also not bad for that. (I'll take it over Lady Gaga's “Telephone” anyway!) The female vocals still sound about like they did in their debut, with the exception of it being different girls. They're loud, boisterous, and quite Bri'ish.
Ain't No Talking A
Still good! This one maybe sounds more like a Motown song from the '70s whereas the previous song was more out of ABBA's Voulez-Vous. Just a little bit funky and very infectious. Of course there's still that post-modern feeling to it. It's hard to explain it, but The Pipettes have always seemed tongue-in-cheek and genuine at the same time. ...Well, this is disco, but it's infectious. That's pretty much all that matters when it comes to this sort of music.
Thank You B+
You're welcome, my fair maidens! ...But unfortunately, your expressions of gratitude don't automatically make me love your songs. I suppose the one trap modern people who write disco music is that they like to make these THUMPY drum rhythms that seem sort of dead to me. It gets somewhat annoying and is not danceable whatsoever. On the other hand, this is a pretty nice song. The main melody is nicely done, and I particularly like hearing their background vocals, which really take off. They unfortunately betray the flow of the song with this poundy part in the middle, which doesn't add anything unfortunately.
Need a Little Time B
I really hate the way this one starts, sounding way too much like a disco-fied version of that horribly iconic '80s instrumental classic “Axle F.” ...But then it pretty quickly turns into another decent disco song. The melody is nicely done but not the world's most memorable thing. I'd imagine this would be a real hit if you were to play it in a night club. It's quite toe-tapping. Though it doesn't do much to ignite my imagination.
If you're dancing, you're probably going to continue. Now, whether you'll still have the song stuck in your mind long after the dance is over is a different matter entirely. The melody is not memorable in the slightest. ...I mean, the previous song at least had a chorus that soared into life, but this is pretty much just a nice dance song. At least the singing is spirited, as always, and it's nice to hear them always sticking to those guns. ...And, I might seem pretty weird saying this, but I like that whip-like drum machine.
I Always Planned to Stay A-
This one should have been on their debut album so that they wouldn't have tried to give it this goofy disco production. That drum is way too light for it; it really needed those full-fledged wall-of-sound drumming. The song itself is beautiful. The melody is catchy and their vocals are layered wonderfully. It's such a shame the production betrayed it!
Stop the Music B-
Don't stop the music, but put some more life into it dang it! This is a tight and shuffley song that's not boring at all, but it doesn't seem nearly as infectious as it should have been. It also doesn't particularly make me want to dance, which at least some of the uninteresting previous songs had going for it. Oh well. Of all things, I like the ending the best where it goes off on a sort of ethereal, atmospheric tangent. ...But I suppose that's one of the problems; it's a fairly unfocused song. Not everything can be a hit, obviously.
I Vibe U B
It sounds like “Ain't No Talking” in that it's more '70s Motown than sparkly disco music. But it's not quite as successful. It comes off as rather flat. The melody doesn't work as well. But all the same, I like listening to it thanks to the singing. The lead vocals and the playful back-up singing is very well done.
Our Love Was Saved By Spacemen C+
Again, this is sort of fun, but it doesn't even come close to holding a candle to the two songs that opened the song. It sounds like it should have been out of ABBA's Voulez-Vous... except those songs were actually very memorable and infectious! This one is ...meh. Sounds a bit too cheap, and it doesn't have enough of a kitsch factor to make up for it. The autotuned vocals midway through was the kiss of death. But at least I like the song title!
Finding My Way A-
This is more like it! Keep the concentration on the VOCALS and... if you get around to it... write a nice tune! Certainly this isn't the best tune they've ever been responsible for, but there's a pretty good hook in that chorus. The rhythm isn't too complicated, but it coupled with the catchy hook gives my foot the predilection to tapping.
Captain Rhythm B
They should have given this sort of production to “I Always Planned to Stay” since this has some rather large drum sounds to it. Although it comes across as a bit too stiff. Unfortunately, this song also doesn't have quite the infectious melody! Although the chorus is pretty good, and that glockenspiel in there was a nice touch... The build-up to the chorus could have used a bit of work.
From Today B+
This one isn't bad, although I sort of wish they would have focused on making a SONG than trying to overladen this with complicated production. The beginning features a girl singing amidst some atmospheric vocal synths. Soon enough, a disco song pipes up. ...Now, the disco song is pretty darn good thanks to a catchy melody. I'm not always a fan of those tight and fast-paced dance-synths, but these ones are fun. Would I dance to this, if I were the dancing type? Probably! But they always changing the rhythm around, which rather betrays its pacing.
American Demo (2008)
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New Art For the People A-
Cool! A four string quartet! That's what I like to hear in pop-rock! ...I'm not joking, it's refreshing to hear a pop album start out with a string quartet for once. It's a nicely written one, too, with a memorable theme. Then again, what the hell do I know about string quartets? It's not Mozart, but it's “Eleanor Rigby.”
The Last Significant Statement to Be Made in Rock 'N Roll A
Wow, these guys can write a melody! I immediately take to this one, and perhaps I'm singing along with it by the end. (I'm not *actually*singing with it, but I could see where I might want to do that at some point.) The instrumentation is nice and poppy with those Cars-like bubbly rhythm guitars keeping the groove at first before being taken over by louder, more epic fuzzy guitars for the conclusion. This is a very fun song to listen to, and my only complaint is that it could have been shortened by maybe a minute...
Our Daughters Will Never Be Free B
I get a pretty huge Pipettes vibe from this, except the guitars are sped up in such a way that it feels more new wave to me. She advanced in time 15 years! It's a nice song; it's poppy and fun to listen to. I'm not too wild over it, though. The melody is OK, but it's not one that I'll ever have whispering under my breath.
Better to Know B
They really love these early '80s sounding rhythm guitars! It's a shame that they're not coming up with hopelessly infectious melodies to match their good sounds. I mean, the melody is OK. It's fluid and I can listen to it with a smile on my face. But it doesn't quite have what's needed for me to want to put it on an iPod playlist. It's fun to listen to, though, thanks to the smart instrumentation.
Now this is more like it. Not only does this have their smart pop instrumental standards I've heard in all the other songs, but it also has a wonderful melody. The chorus is one that pops out of you, and it's easy to fall in love with Clark-Lowes' uber-sweet bubblegum vocal delivery. My only nitpick is a bit toward the end where they strip away the instrumentation and leave just a drum beat. ...Blech. Kinda killed it. That's just a small nitpick, though.
Julia, We Don't Live in the '60s A-
You're right, we live in the '80s now!!! Cyndi Lauper isn't old!!! ...Actually this song would've sounded much better than a lot of those songs from She's So Unusual. There I said it. The Indelicates are better than Cyndi Lauper. I'm not joking about that, actually. Lauper blows chunks... ...Seriously, this song is a lot of fun. I start out thinking I'm going to love it the whole way through. It has a thunderous, excited drum beat, heavy fuzz guitars, a boisterous vocal performance from Simon Clayton and this quirky flute riff. Unfortunately, it loses just a tad bit of its inertia by the end, but not really enough to kill the fun.
I don't fault them at all for taking a small break from the quickly paced, vaguely new-wave songs they've been doing to deliver this atmospheric, sort of cinematic ballad. A little diversity does no harm! I just wish this was more interesting. The atmosphere seems a bit bland. Clark-Lowe's vocals are nice to listen to, but she doesn't seem to find much of a melody. They apparently knew that it was a bit boring, so they brought in the drums, extremely fuzzy guitars and louder singing for the final half. But amazingly that's just as bland and uninteresting as the first half.
New Art For the People B+
I guess this is the real version of that string quartet that appeared at the beginning of the album. It starts out with Clayton straining his voice to sound raspy to an electric guitar... Not terribly great, but things get nicer when Clarke-Lowe starts singing with a twinkly piano and sad sounding violins playing in the background. The final third consists of a heavier drum beat and rock 'n' roll guitars. Are they giving their songs rock 'n' roll endings just to try to save them? ...Sure it was a little boring, but the rock 'n' roll stuff at the end just seems desperate. The melody doesn't pop out at me, which is why I can't bring myself to think extremely highly of this, but it's certainly nice and sort of interesting.
Unity Mitford A
They have a little penchant for classical music, don't they? They start this track with a rather extended classical piano sequence. Sure it's not Chopin. It's not even Renaissance. But it's sweet to the ears, and I like it. Eventually Clarke-Lowe starts to sing a sweet melody with that sweet voice of hers with happy lyrics about romantic things and beauty, and I like it. They gradually layer on the instrumentation to include strummy guitars and lightly buzzing fuzz noises, and I like that, too. I will add that even though this is the third song in a row to feature a rock 'n' roll conclusion, this was much better developed than the previous two. (But seriously, you've got to stop doing that.)
If Jeff Buckley Had Lived B
The lyrics are pretty interesting and probably true... Jeff Buckley, generally considered one of the major '90s music icons, would probably be forgotten today if he was still alive. Not true, I say! I'd know who he was! He was the son of Tim Buckley, duhhhhh... Anyway, this is an OK song. The melody isn't very memorable, but the gradual build-up of the instrumentation keeps it lively. Plus, they don't have a rock 'n' roll ending, which I am extremely grateful for!
Not a Spinal Tap cover? I'm disappointed! This fast-paced, danceable ditty happens to be one of the album's hookier songs, with a nice chorus. The instrumentation is the usual array of pianos, fuzzy guitars and heavy drums... Not too different than everything else here...
Not a Velvet Underground cover? I'm disappointed! What this is instead is a rather nice piano ballad that builds up to a rockin' tune! (For the record, this turns into a rockin' tune rather early on in the song, so it doesn't seem like a last-minute bailout like I was saying about that trio of songs up there.) As with everything here, this is entertaining and snappy... It's smartly produced and the lyrics are nice... But it's just not extremely memorable.
We Hate The Kids A-
I hate kids, too. Snot nosed little gits, all of them. Vile little spawns... Oh!!! Wait, kids are cute, aren't they? I saw how Charlie bite his finger! Awww! How can these heartless Indelicates hate those kids? Hmm? ... This is surely one of the album's better melodies, and I rather like the seedy, growling way they deliver those lyrics. They continue to use their strategy of starting their songs quietly and build them up to more rockin' beats as they go along. Although I get the feeling they took it a bit too far at the end. ...Just a bit cluttered.
So, this is a quiet acoustic number that doesn't seem like they cared too much about it. At least they didn't try to bail it out with rock 'n' roll at the end! It pretty much starts and ends the same way. The melody is OK, but it doesn't pop out at me.
Point Me to the West A-
I believe everything from this point on are Bonus Tracks of sorts. I don't see these tracks listed on Wikipedia anyway. But I like this song, so if you're going to get this album, then definitely get the one with this song on it. It's still a little bit boring, but it makes up for that in charm. (Also it doesn't resort to that rock 'n' roll bailout that I started vilifying after reviewing these songs!) It starts with Clayton singing a forgettable melody to an acoustic guitar, but then some violins and stuff keep getting layered on by the end, and it's rather sweet!
Unity Mitford (Live From Weekender Club Innsbruck) A-
Live version! These are bonus tracks! Anyway, this is alright. It has an introduction and it's performed nicely. Although I don't know what Clayton was thinking of when he whispered into the microphone during the beginning of Clarke-Lowe's vocal performance like some kind of stalker. It cuts out a bit at the end, but I like Clarke-Lowes' little chirp of “thank you” at the end. That just made me fall in love with her. (Ugh! I'm sorry!! I'm having a hot chocolate sugar rush!!!!)
Peter Pan B
I hate repeating myself all the time, but they're not giving me a whole lot to work with. I like this song. I find it entertaining. But there's something too stale, something too lifeless about it. It gets a good rockin' groove going, and the melody is marginally good (one of the better ones of the whole album), but it doesn't manage to bury itself too deeply into my soul unfortunately.
Fun For the Feeble Mind B-
Fun for me right now is sitting in the corner of a dark messy room writing paragraphs about music that few people have ever listened to. Seriously, I think this is fun! (Also, sugar rushes are fun! I'm so going to get diabetes. That's an inevitability. Luckily, I still have a few more golden years left before I have to start worrying about that...) This is another one of their songs that starts out like a piano ballad and gradually gets more intense and rock 'n' roll as it progresses. I think it's safe to say these guys were working on a formula... It's a good formula and they execute it well, but they had trouble writing exciting melodies, so I get bored...
No Religion C
Is it just me, or is there a billion songs in this album? I know I'm deeply into the “bonus tracks” section or whatever, but it seems like I've been sitting here forever! This song isn't anything to talk about, really. It's some sort of country ballad that doesn't have that rock 'n' roll bailout section, but it could have used something to inject a little life into it. I'm guessing these things are tracks they cut out of the album, because they were boring. This was definitely one to cut. Zzzz... The lyrics are depressing, too.
The Last Bombed City B
This is interesting enough to make me sit up and pay attention to it. The instrumentation consists of a sort of Gilbert and Sullivan styled piano while Clark-Lowes sings a cute melody and layers some wispy background vocals. It seems a bit stiff, but it's entertaining enough.
Songs For Swinging Lovers (2010)
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Man! Did I just walk into a musical, or something? This sounds terribly melodramatic; Julia Clarke-Lowes belts out the lyrics like she was some kind of actress while the instrumentation consists mainly of a pounding piano. (Electric guitars eventually find their way into the mix, which helps give it body later on.) It's quite a huge song, and Julia at least has enough remarkable chops to pull this off. The melody is quite good, too! ...On the other hand, it seems like a song like this should be telling me a story, isn't it? I read the lyrics, and they're mostly meaningless to me. They certainly sound important the way they're sung, however!
Your Money A
Uh oh, they just blew their PG-13 rating here... (Cussing doesn't bother me, but I guess this means this ain't no kids' album!) Simon Clayton takes over the lead vocals, and he sounds just as show-tuney as Clarke-Lowes does! The instrumentation is more rock 'n' roll, though. Apart from a piano introduction, this is a very steady guitar-lead groove and maybe a little bit of distortion toward the end. If you like headbanging songs, then I might have found a good one for you. I suppose the lyrics sound like an angry teenager, or something. Is that what this musical is about? ...Yeah, that one hasn't been done before! Nice song, though.
We Love You, Tania A-
And I'm sure Tania loves you back... Well, I can't say I'm a huge fan of these over-dramatized vocals, but these guys sure write nice songs! (Those vocals Clayton brings in sounds like he was flitting out huge globules of phlegm upon every syllable. Clarke-Lowes, on the other hand, has a pretty nice high-pitched tone to her vocals in her parts.) The central hook to this is undeniably wonderful, and the instrumentation is presented nicely with a good mix of electric guitars and a twinkly piano. My only complaint is that the hook repeats so much that it gets a bit stale by the end... although they vary the instrumental textures throughout the song well enough that it masks it all pretty well. Nice one!
It still sounds like they're writing a musical about disillusioned teenagers, but it's in the form of a pretty nice power-pop song. I mean, I think the Bay City Rollers could have made excellent use of the riff! ...And, rest assured, The Indelicates make nice use of it, too. Clayton is still over-singing the everloving snot over this, which sounds a little odd since those nicely high-pitched and more disciplined vocals from Clarke-Lowes come at a contrast. Some tightly textured synthesizer arpeggios start to take over at the end, which was a nice touch.
Well all of this drama certainly helps me get drawn into this, even though I still think they're overdoing it a little. But if they can write a good melody, then why should I complain? (I guess I just wish Clayton wouldn't enunciate so much like he was the star of "The Phantom of the Opera.") They're singing about teenagers' habit of copulating with random people even though it's a sin. And like almost every sin, it's a lot of fun. Oh well... I guess that's one of the dilemmas of a teenager. Savages B+ Maybe I'm just getting a bit tired of this formula? They're still writing quite nice, hooky show tunes. This one has a cute, twinkly piano while Clayton gives us his best Michael Crawford impression. This one doesn't evolve a whole lot as it progresses, though, which is at an unfortunate contrast with some of these other ones.
Oh yes... here's another ballad that sounds so dramatic that I wonder if Clark-Lowes was singing this with the back of her hand pressed to her forehead whilst clutching an oversized, white handkerchief. That's no real criticism, of course, and I can't criticize it too much, because it's a mighty good song. Generally, it's like the previous song (the twinkly piano, once again, is a primary instrument), but I tend to like Clark-Lowes' more straightforward singing style better. The atmosphere is quite morose... I wonder how many people look back to their teenage years and wish they didn't spend the whole time being so depressed?
Sympathy for the Devil A-
Right off the bat, this isn't a Rolling Stones cover! That tricked me when I first looked at the track listening... I thought I was about to listen to a goofy hipster-version of a classic tune. ...I guess they couldn't find another name for this country-western song. ...Well, you can probably tell by the rating that it is another nice one with a hummable melody and perfectly competent instrumentation (with the familiar picking acoustic guitars, lively drums, and simple bass patterns). If you don't like the singing or the lyrics, I think you'd at least enjoy its lighthearted vibe... It's a pretty nice change, since I've accused this album lately of being too serious.
Be Afraid of Your Parents B+
...Because you're going to turn into them. No matter what you do! Oh, there are slight variations, but that's what Darwin says evolution is all about. Listen to how much Clayton enjoys dramatizing these songs! You can tell a great dramatizer by how much he rolls his Rs. ...Anyway, I seem to be giving all these songs similar scores. But when they're so consistently well-written, there's not much room for me to swerve! This seems like a sort of tango, or something, and it's orchestrated mainly with a piano. There's a heavier guitar part in the middle to keep things from growing too dull, I suppose. If someone told me Danny Elfman composed this as a pop song for a Tim Burton movie, I'd probably believe it.
I kind of like this too... but not enough to be terribly inspired by it. It has a nice tune to it, and crunchy instrumentation with guitars, pianos and a swinging horn section. Why the mere B? I guess I'm a bit tired of this formula. You know, I wasn't big on this over-dramatized show-tunes to begin with, and I haven't had a break from it. I'd also say the tune is slightly less memorable than the other, even though it's sort of fun as I'm listening to it.
Anthem For Doom Youth A
Well, here is probably what's the best song of the lot... As the final song of the album, its lyrics seem to tie everything up quite nicely. (“You're howling, abyss-eyed and broken / You're perverted and gracefully drunk / But there's nobody left in the west these days / Wronged enough to be a punk / Doomed youth, you're so beautiful / You never learned to be suspicious / Of the stones that look to precious to be true / Like you, Doomed Youth”) I don't know why, but I'm having trouble taking this quite as seriously as these singers seem to... Or maybe I just can't sympathize with the plights of useless young people? At any rate, I can recognize a good tune when I hear one, and this is something I can pretty easily start to hum along with if I was in the mood for it. Clayton's vocals are on the forefront while Clark-Lowes takes on background vocals, which helps build up a rather epic conclusion for this song... and the whole album, for that matter.
I Don't Care If It's True B
...I indicated that the previous track was the ending of the album. Well, I guess this is a “bonus track.” It's not a terribly interesting tune... it's the same line being repeated over and over with an acoustic guitar... The lead vocals are taken on—once again—by Clayton, and he's alright. It eventually evolves into a shuffly and repetitive chorus, sort of like “Hey Jude.” There wasn't a whole lot of build-up to deserve such epicness at the end, but it's kind of nice.
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