When I first started hearing rumblings about the English girl group trio, the Pipettes, I wondered what the entire hubbub was about. At first glance, the Pipettes seemed nothing more to me than Bananarama with a Supremes twist. But holy Gwenno, Becki and Rosay, was I in for a surprise! Thanks to the demise of the singles market in the states, most American fans didn’t get a chance to hear the Pipettes (with a short “I” sound, like a female version of the Pips) until this year, but the three lovely and talented Brighton belles have been wooing British fans since early last year. Their stated mission is “to turn back the clock to a time before the Beatles ruined everything,” which may sound like blasphemy to some, but is beautiful music to others. You may have missed all the individual singles, but don’t miss out on the debut full-length, We Are the Pipettes, a flux-capacitor induced joyride to the land of the dominant girl groups with a modern, independent twist.
Emily Post, the godmother of etiquette, claims that “a gentleman is always presented to a lady, even though he is an old gentleman of great distinction and the lady a mere slip of a girl.” The Pipettes nip that shit in the bud with the opening title track, introducing themselves to the boys and girls of this planet, and believe me, they prove they’re no “mere slips.” Organs and drums roll behind the accented harmonies as the girls sing, “if you haven’t noticed yet, we’re the prettiest girls you’ve ever met. We are the Pipettes, we will drop you in our nets, when you’re crying in your beds, you’ll hope we haven’t finished with you yet.” Wow. I think I’ve got the vapors and am about to swoon! The incredibly infectious current single, “Pull Shapes,” follows the declarative title track, and if you haven’t been convinced of the magic of the throwback pop of the Pipettes at this point, you probably never will be. The single simultaneously revives the pink chiffon days of the Dixie Cups and the Shangri-La’s and puts the power of sexuality directly in the hands of the modern independent woman. Of course, rather than dressing in risque Aguilera or Spears-worthy outfits, they wear matching polka-dotted dresses.
“Why Did You Stay?” and “Dirty Mind” continue the tradition of the Spector “Wall of Sound” and stands as further proof of the fact that the Pipettes are no flash in the pan. “Judy” is one of the standout tracks, beginning with finger snaps and organ flourishes before launching into one of the more memorable choruses on the record. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, thereï¿½s the enchanting “doo-be-doo’s” of “A Winter’s Sky.” The hair stood up on the back of my neck. Seriously. The second to last single follows in “Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me,” another sassy and sexy balance of pop brilliance. No wonder the Pipettes seemingly got more press than Pete Doherty! “Tell Me What You Want” continues the string of keepers, making We Are the Pipettes one of the strongest album debuts ever, besides one of the best of the year, and the album with the most continuous run of potential hits in recent memory.
“Sex” revolves around what you’d expect, but the result is far from predictable. When one of the girls sings in her oh so alluring accent “no fanks, but when you get going, you really can be quite a bore” before she and the other two sirens harmonize “just rest your pret-ty head,” you are under their magic spell. The same goes for the follower, single “One Night Stand.” Overlapping vocals and memorable line, “If you think that this is cruel, you should see what my friends do” make this song an absolute empowering pop gem. Another previous single arrives in “ABC,” and it’s easy to hear why this song, among the other singles, made the Pipettes a worldwide phenomenon. The song is about a shy bookish type who is all about “ABC, 123, XYZ, but he don’t care about XTC.” The album closes with “I Love You,” one of the more heartfelt (and shortest) songs on the album, more in tune with their ’60s predecessors, rather than the modern versions that played earlier.
The Pipettes are sure to be one of Memphis Industries’ cornerstones, which is really saying something considering the incredible roster they’ve built over the last few years. The Go! Team, Field Music and Dungen are incredible bands with plenty of buzz, but the Pipettes trump them all with their full-length debut. Sometimes hype is just hype, but in the case of these three Brighton beach beauties, who have now toured with the likes of Graham Coxon, the Magic Numbers and British Sea Power, they have the goods to back it up. All hail the Pipettes, paying homage to a bygone era, yet arriving right on time.