We Are The Pipettes

The Pipettes

V, 2007


REVIEW BY: Jedediah Pressgrove


“If you haven’t noticed yet / We’re the prettiest girls you’ve ever met.”

That’s what The Pipettes tell you on their debut album’s title track. They are pretty, but they also know how to make wonderful pop music.

Not without a lot of help, though. In addition to the three leading ladies on vocals (RiotBecki, Gwenno, and Rosay), you’ll hear the bright instrumentation of The Cassette, led by the guitarist/mastermind of The Pipettes, Monster Bobby. You’ll hear retro string and horn arrangements. And you’ll hear production that takes more than a hint from Phil Spector’s Wall Of Sound technique.

The English pop group has admitted their music is manufactured and experimental (of course, a pipette is an instrument you would find in a laboratory). But they themselves are the designers of their image, style, and sound. They have a mission of sorts, as RiotBecki told British publication The Observer, “I’d like to think we are a refreshing alternative to the bland standardized hegemony of cock-rock.”my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Almost every track on We Are The Pipettes could be a single. Many of them were released as such, including “Judy,” my introduction to the group. Rosay is the lead vocalist on the song, her voice a concoction of pleasant memory and present sadness: “Judy / Whatcha gonna do /  When you’re older / And no one wants to know ya?” The chorus is a story you may hear in your head while doing anything, and it’s hard not saying the words yourself, the mark of a solid pop song. 

But “Judy” isn’t indicative of the album’s overall tone (though “Tell Me What You Want” has a similar verse musically). The majority of the songs are lighthearted and often hilarious. For example, “One Night Stand” is the rejection of a sensitive man after a night of careless sex: “I don’t love you / If you think that this is cruel / Then you should see what my friends do!” Another popular theme is dancing, with the single “Pull Shapes” -- a British phrase for dancing -- being the most persuasive and fun for a person like me who has little interest in the dance floor.

Unfortunately, the energy of “Pull Shapes” and humor of “Sex” and “ABC” make tracks like “I Love You” somewhat mundane, but they are listenable. Another serious song, “Winter Sky,” overcomes its heavier tone by enveloping you in a wave of beautiful voices. Yes, the album is a collective effort, but the vocals are the selling point every time.

On this American release, two tracks were added to the end of the record: “Dance And Boogie” and “Baby, Just Be Yourself.” The former is undoubtedly the most modern track, featuring a cool New Wave element with its keyboard line. “Baby, Just Be Yourself,” the sweetest song from the shrewd trio, sends the album back into the past for its finale. (The American release also features a yellow album cover with the three women standing well above city buildings like three female King Kong superhumans.)

We Are The Pipettes is 35 minutes of splendid music. Just when I think it can’t hook me anymore, I end up listening to just one more track, just one more track, just one more track. The only bummer here is the knowledge that two of The Pipettes, RiotBecki and Rosay, left the group this year for other projects. Anna and Ani, Gwenno’s sister, are their replacements. Hopefully the new lineup can pull shapes as well as this one.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2008 Jedediah Pressgrove and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of V, and is used for informational purposes only.