Something’s different – have they had a haircut?…
Michaelangelo Matos: The Great Pipettes Debate of ’06: shudder at the very words! I didn’t participate, but I remember it well enough, and as a by-product of the debate’s silliness I didn’t pay much attention to the music either. So maybe I’m wrong to find this surprisingly expansive; it builds a lot more than I’d expected. It’s clever and knows it, but I don’t find it intrusive, or the song overly theoretical.
Doug Robertson: So, as we all know, the Pipettes used to be all kinds of polka-dotted amazingness, but since then they’ve gone through more line-up changes than the Sugababes and now seem to be aiming towards being a Pipettes tribute band, rather than the Pipettes themselves. This lacks the knowing appropriation that their brand of retro-futuristic girl group pop used to have in spades, and instead sounds like something you’d hear blaring out near the pool of a particularly poor Costa del Sol holiday. What’s most disappointing here isn’t the track itself, but the fact that they don’t even seem to be trying anymore. Previously they sounded effortless; this just sounds like it lacked effort.
Chuck Eddy: People born after, like, 1980 think these Brit birds sound…what? “Motown”? “60s Girl Group”? Because of the horns, I guess? No fucking idea. If I really really strain I can maybe detect some remote semblance of polite Seekers-style “Georgy Girl”-type girl-pop (or Petula Clark maybe? But not “Don’t Sleep In The Subway”…honestly, not “Georgy Girl” either, nothing anywhere near that pretty, but that type of stuff), at a three-generations remove (via Tracey Ullman, Lisa Stansfield, whoever) and drained of all bodily fluids. Not that it had many in the first place.
Edward Okulicz: This is back in the sort of Maxine Nightingale territory of “Dirty Mind” rather than the full girl-group rush of “Pull Shapes”, and the recording budget’s certainly swelled a bit. It’s true that the best bit is the wordless outro at the end, and the hooks here aren’t as bold and brassy as on the first album, but the gloss is appealing if not quite magical.
Iain Mew: Apparently, even with no original members left and years after the main event, it’s still possible to produce music which rolls back the years with slink and sparkle. Someone should have a word with Sugababes.
Ian Mathers: It’s kind of like when Hollywood adapts a book you love into a movie; in a lot of ways, this band isn’t the one that did “Your Kisses Are Wasted on Me” and “Pull Shapes,” and not just because of turnover; like Alphabeat the references have been pulled forward from the 50s and 60s to the 80s. But as with “Hole in My Heart,” “Stop the Music” mainly confirms that the reason I loved these guys in the first place was hooks, not pastiche; if I do miss the old sardonic edge a bit, that’s not enough to put much of a damper on the fact that I’ve been humming “Stop the Music” to myself all day.
Katherine St Asaph: The Pipettes skip ahead a decade, apparently having used up their career polka-dot allotment. They rummage up plenty of things that work: the wispy backing vocals on the verses, the pause right after “stop!” that somehow never gets old. But why do they sound so bored?
Martin Skidmore: They sound less amateurish now, but they also sound less ambitious, less determinedly seeking a classic ’60s girl-group aesthetic, and they still can’t create a great pop song.
Jonathan Bogart: The Pipettes continue their elegant decline, from girl-group sass-machines to disco campistas to a second-rate Cardigans edging towards a corner marked Yaki-Da.
Alfred Soto: The air of detachment — from the girls’ delivery to the rhythm guitar — evokes Swain-Jolley era Bananarama without the melancholy. That’s the problem. The Pipettes’ previous incarnations bulldozed you with their bloodless determination to give you a perky good time. Now that the settings demand more signifying than their personalities are capable of, they trade the bulldozer for platform shoes and maracas, and it’s vaguely gross and definitely out of character. It’s like asking your mother in law to pose with a dozen roses on Mother’s Day.