Ah, The Pipettes.
Eliciting images of polka dots, flouncy dresses and cool 50’s shades and hand jives. After a clutch of quality singles they have finally been gracious enough to drop their first long player in our laps. If you’re already familiar with the singles then you should know what to expect. Dense sixties girl group production on tracks that rarely wander over the two and a half minute stage. Thunderous drums and twee finger clicks and handclaps. Gorgeous (but not faultless) harmonies and the coy twang of a fifties style guitar.
Lovely. Not perfect. But Lovely all the same.
Spread over fourteen tracks there is a danger that The Pipettes might just outstay their welcome. However they manage to get away with it, but only just. What will they do for a follow up album is anyone’s guess (well, probably more of the same…).
The singles are divine slabs of retro pop with an authenticity about them that takes some questioning. Think of Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me, Pull Shapes, It Hurts To See You Dance So Well and you get some of the finest vinyl on offer this year. However there are tracks that occasionally don’t come up to the album’s high water mark. The lead track, We Are The Pipettes seems a little unnecessary but I’m willing to bet it grows on me. And later in the collection ABC (no, not that one) seems to highlight flaws in the smoothness of the song writing.
The glitches are however thankfully minor, the odd bit of flat vocal or slightly swamped production. Nothing that lasts too long and if a track doesn’t take your fancy then you know that by virtue of their economic length it’s going to end soon enough.
The strongest songs are the ones where they have tongues planted firmly in cheek (which is most of them). The anecdotal etchings of Judy and Dirty Mind (the respective stories of befriending the school bully and issues of personal hygiene of a prospective boyfriend) demonstrate a deadpan humour that shoots and scores.
We Are The Pipettes is a fine debut, perhaps taking the retro 50’s approach as far as it can go. But for now it’s an approach that works and while the album will eventually wear out its welcome for now it gets a hearty recommendation. Pass the Dansette…