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Chew Lips – Unicorn (Family)

January 27, 2010

Obviously I’m not listening to Steve Lamacq enough, because apparently he’s been waxing lyrical about Chew Lips (tulips…haha I get it) for almost two years. And somewhat misguidedly I fear too.

I’ve been reading a lot about how they appear to be another female-fronted electro band and really, by the first dawn of the new decade, we should finally be tired of this kind of thing but because Chew Lips are so good, we’re not. Well, maybe everybody else is still up for heavy doses of synth and an over-programmed drum machine but I’m really struggling to be enthusiastic.

Admittedly, leading lady Tigs has a lovely voice and shows it off to its best on tracks like ‘Slick’ and ‘Piano Song’. But often it fights against the overbearing production behind it, choosing to win the battle by levelling out on the same range of nasal-toned notes. And possibly because they sound like they were put together with fridge magnet poetry, I’m not averse to the lyrics either. I mean how else do you explain, ‘Your hands were tied/the storm had come/with midnight eyes/we played with guns’?

Lacking the overt eerie quality of Fever Ray or the jagged dancefloor pop of La Roux, Chew Lips’ debut sits somewhere awkwardly in between and fails to impact. Perversely MOR-ish electro tunes like ‘Karen’, ‘Seven’ and ‘Golden Key’ really put the lack before the lustre on this album.

The infectious groove of ‘Toro’ and the almost heartbreaking and understated ‘Piano Song’ are two of Unicorn’s redeeming moments. As is opening track ‘Eight’, thats chorus (‘A high-speed chase on your wedding day/give and take are all the same/cannon shoot on grassy moor/a battlefield of love and war’) could’ve been stolen from the cutting room floor of Alanis Morrisette’s ‘Ironic’ – if perhaps a slightly abstract version.

Like a really skinny person in bed, there just isn’t enough meat to get your fingers into on this one. And I know we’re only 4 weeks into 2010, but there is just something ‘like soooo last decade’ about Unicorn.

[Originally reviewed for Bearded]

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 5, 2010 4:53 pm

    Hey, I reviews this album for ClickMusic. I tend to agree with a lot of what you’ve written, I’m not quite as down about them album. Golden Key is such an anthem. Check out my blog:

    http://marjoda.wordpress.com/2010/02/05/chew-lips-review-published/

    I also interviewed them last summer:

    http://www.clickmusic.com/interviews/article/chew-lips

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