Anyone who was charmed by the sweet twee-pop and British accents of The Pipettes debut album We Are The Pipettes will be sorely disappointed by the band's sophomore (sort of...I will get to that in a minute) release, Earth vs. The Pipettes. Gone are the cutesy polka dot dresses of the three girls from Brighton who originated the band, or the charming lyrics and retro pop tunes. After a series of lineup changes, The Pipettes no longer include any of the original members, and the music sounds that way. Somehow, somewhere, The Pipettes have turned into a cheesy disco (with a touch of 80s synth) band outfitted in futuristic space garb.
Now fronted by sister duo Ani and Gwenno Saunders, it seems strange that this band and album even have the same name of The Pipettes we knew back in 2008. Instead of paying homage to the sweet girl groups of the 50s an 60s, Earth vs. The Pipettes recalls the beat-heavy disco days of the 70s and the synth pop of the 80s. While this combination sounds like it could make for an album of lovable guilty-pleasure pop hits on first listen, few of the album's tracks are memorable in the slightest.
Opener "Call Me" does a good job of referencing the band's chosen 70s/80s influence and is less cluttered than many of the following tracks. The song has a catchy chorus and despite the changes, might actually appeal to former fans of the original The Pipettes. "Ain't No Talkin'" is probably the biggest highlight of the album, beginning with a groovy guitar riff and growing into a deliciously sweet hook. It's guilty-pleasure-worthy, that's for sure, but unfortunately for the new reincarnation of The Pipettes, that's where the highlights end.
The rest of the album is forgettable at best, with several tracks that are really quite terrible. "I Vibe U" and "History" should have been left off entirely.The lack of variety on the album makes their 80s Europop sound become mildly annoying after more than one listen, despite what seems like a good faith effort to reinvent. Maybe this sister duo will grow into their sound with time, but it seems silly to go on as a space age disco group still pretending to be The Pipettes.