Saturday, March 10, 2007

song of the week: pull shapes

After seemingly years without any decent girl-presence in music, we seem to be in the midst of a full-on girl-power renaissance. While last year's cute little indie boy bands set about releasing their bloated sophomore albums, a gang of smart arse ladies have exploded into pop and stole all their thunder - and thank god. Boys are well boring.

The gradual take-over has been delicate and subtle. As boybands are crushed underfoot by the stilettos of the dazzling Sugababes and Girls Aloud, all those weedy oh-so-sincere male acoustic bores have been chewed up and spat out by the likes of soul-madam Amy Winehouse and Lou Rhodes in the folk camp (so pack your bags Lemar and James Morrison - your kind ain't welcome round here). Even America has woken up and realised that Lady Sovereign is the new, acually, no, better than, Eminem. We have the naughty CSS representing dance, the gothic beauty of Monsters are Waiting , Howling Bells for art-rock, The Gossip finally breaking free of their cult following and coming up trumps with some real indie clout, all following quality new output from fairy godmothers Sleater Kinney, Cat Power, Fiona Apple, Amanda Dresden Doll, Christina Aguilera and Kate Bush in the last 18 months. I don't even have to stoop to mentioning the likes of Natasha Bedingfield or (ick) KT Tunstall to beef up the numbers now. Things are really looking bright when I don't even have to mention Lily Allen - and Alright Still isn't half bad.

This week, I have mostly been listening to The Pipettes, one of last year's strongest new girl groups. I've progressed from sort-of liking them, to absolutely adoring them. Last summer's top 40 single Pull Shapes is so perfect I could almost weep. This is the teen music I feel like I have been waiting for since Kenickie split up (oh, how I miss Kenickie) and Ash became crap. Now, before all you stinky boys start talking up the role of their male backing-group, The Cassettes, I concede, part of the beauty of The Pipettes is that lush combination of manufactured pop meets lo-fi Phil Spector (if you can imagine such a thing).

But nobody cares about The Casettes - they could change their line up faster than The Red Hot Chilli Peppers used to lose guitarists - nobody would care. It's those beautiful seaside English vowels, occassionally parading in pseudo-American accents and covered in Max Factor Red that makes The Pipettes so immediate. Oh so pop-conventional girl-group harmonies, exuberant, boisterous shouty hand-clappy bits, gutsy girly vocals, half Bananarama, half Shangri-Las, every syllable summoning me to grab my hairbrush as microphone, parking myself in front of the mirror for a one-off solo bedroom gig.

Pull Shapes is pop perfection of the highest quality, weighing in at a joyful 2 minutes 58 seconds and throwing in break-downs, hand-claps, lush twilly strings and crowd cheers. Why anybody in their right mind would rather listen to blazered public-school boys fighting for musical credibility or, even worse, friggin Fall Out Boy *gag* is beyond me. As a Pipettes' amazon review writes, 'Quick! Somebody give Smash Hits CPR.' After years of boys in baggy jeans rapping over dated drumbeats, pallid boychildren with no genitalia singing about flying without wings or some such crap and identikit Stone Roses and Joy Division rip-offs, pop music is back on the map. Phew.


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