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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisIn the wake of the Phil Spector murder trial, the swinging sounds of the 1960s are making a comeback with oldies groups like The Ronettes, The Shirelles and The Shangri-Las earning newfound respect in somewhat unlikely hipster circles. Add in the Motown inspired sounds of the latest Dreamgirls motion picture revival and groups with big hairdos, even heartier harmonies and slick dance steps (topped off with cute costumes) appear to be all the rage. In an unlikely indie scene marketing twist, England's The Pipettes recently emerged sporting similar sounds and styles, while simultaneously attempting to modernize the classic "wall of sound" recording techniques.
Though the trio's intentions are somewhat admirable, Rosay, Gwenno and RiotBecki fall short when it comes to execution on its American release We Are the Pipettes (Cherry Tree/Interscope) or its supporting concert tour. Sure the girls are good looking and have generally palatable voices, but rather than putting an original twist on already well-oiled wheels, the ladies comes across much more derivative than they do inventive. And even though the threesome brought its vibrant personalities and kitschy clothes to the stage, they still couldn't quite command the attention of the aforementioned legends.
Carefree ditties like "Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me" and "Tell Me What You Want" were pleasant enough, but rather than strutting with true confidence and discreet sensuality, merely floundered in gimmicky giddiness a la The Go-Go's. In between tunes, The Pipettes giggled with glee (perhaps earning a few turn on points for the fellas), but it wasn't all that far removed from the lip smacking banter of The Spice Girls (sans stories about shopping in favor of sexual innuendo).
Their naughtiness was apparent in the songwriting as well (and yes, the ladies do at least co-write their own tunes) with particularly lusty choruses popping up throughout "One Night Stand." Yet the evening's closest example of a crest came in the lively radio single "Judy," which benefited from a fairly consistent audience sing-a-long. Outside of the co-fronting ladies, the set was also anchored by their all male backing band The Cassettes. With tweed sweater vests straight out of a "Happy Days" episode, it helped sell the group's visual aspect, but no matter how hard anyone tried, they couldn't recapture yesteryear- nor launch a successful time warp into today.
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