The Pipettes – Earth Vs The Pipettes

Release Date 13/09/2010 (Fortuna Pop)

By Chris Gilliver

Earth Vs The PipettesCast your mind back four years, and you might remember the release of The Pipettes debut album with a huge grin. Their early 60s, pre-British Invasion guise, soaked with buckets of serotonin, was received with ubiquitous praise. Fast forward to the present day and things look very different. Joe Lean shacked up with the Jing Jang Jong, and ended up on the streets with boxes of unreleased CDs to remind him of what could have been. More importantly The Pipettes lost two of their three front women, Rose Elinor Dougall and Riot Becki departing for solo careers, leaving Gwenno Saunders to draft in Welsh TV fashionista sis Ani and Alex White of The Electric Soft Parade to fill the void. They haven’t succeeded…

The concept for Earth Vs The Pipettes is an amusingly fascinating one. What would a disco in space sound like? What would Motown, 80s Europop  or Philly Soul sound like if they were composed and played overlooking Saturn’s rings or gazing into the depth of a black hole? Unfortunately The Pipettes don’t even remotely succeed in translating these cosmic ideas into something that would some up the obvious beauty of these experiences.

The album comes in like a Dandy Warhols track with ‘Call Me’ – a band who lost their way with a similarly titled album: Earth to the Dandy Warhols. Unlike The Dandies, the superlight, vaguely sci-fi pop of ‘Call Me’ is not even vaguely something of note. The tracks then pass by without making any impact. The instrumentation is spot on. ‘Ain’t No Talking’ is decked with choppy, high-pitched guitar parts flirting with lush strings that capture the ecstatically happy overtones of the Jackson 5, and then ‘Thank You’ sounds like the result of a transporter accident where soul and a Stock, Aitken and Waterman song have been accidentally rematerialised as one. In this case it’s strangely enjoyable, but most of the tracks fail to ignite. There’s a basic lack of underlying song writing talent – undoubtedly the result of the mass exodus that has blighted the band. It doesn’t matter how witty the lyrics, or how accurately vintage the instrumentation, at their core the songs do not do what they’re supposed to: launch a party and/or a rocket into space. Like a vampire the album is externally vibrant, but dead inside.

That is except on ‘Vibe U’ which is a genuinely loveable moment of schmaltzy pop genius. Sadly this speck of light in a sea of dark matter only serves to remind the listener of how empty most of the album is, and how much they’ve lost since We Are The Pipettes – both literally and musically. It’s time to return to Earth and make music for the people who do exist rather than those who do not…

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