Girl Group Redux

The Pipettes, Great Scott, November 15, 2007
By JIM SULLIVAN  |  December 9, 2007
KITSCH APPEAL: Think of the Pipettes as Bananarama minus the new-wave gloss.

Slideshow: The Pipettes at Great Scott, November 15, 2007
The black-and-white polka-dot outfits the British neo-girl group the Pipettes don in publicity shots and on stage, as at their sold-out show last Thursday at Great Scott, are just a more obvious reflection of the degree to which the trio embrace kitsch and irony. It’s all part of a compelling shtick that updates the Motown/Phil Spector era of harmonizing women, with all the innocent fun that entails, albeit with a wink and a nod. Think of Gwenno, RiotBecki, and Rosay as this year’s models, a Bananarama minus the new-wave gloss. It helps that there are delicious bits of subversion mixed in with the trio’s outwardly innocent appearance — “I don’t do one-night stands,” they’ll protest on one song, only to break into a chorus of “ABC, XYZ/You don’t know about ecstasy.”

Backed by the Cassette — four anonymous gentlemen on keyboards, guitar, bass, and drums — they delivered 21 short, sweet songs in little more than an hour. The pop pleasures were ephemeral, but not entirely empty. Upbeat dance grooves buoyed numbers with coy titles like “Because It’s Not Love (But It’s Still a Feeling),” and it was hard not to be taken with between-song banter like “If the dancing could spread like a cancer through the crowd, that would be ace!”

Even allowing that the British press is given to hyperbole, the NME’s pronouncement that “The quality of life on earth is doubled tenfold by the existence of the Pipettes” is over the top. No question, an evening spent in the company of these girls is a pleasure. But I don’t imagine that the Pipettes are doing any more to curtail carbon monoxide emissions or save the rain forest than the Spice Girls.

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