Tuesday, June 17, 2008
CD of the Day, 6/17/08: The Rip Off Artists-Esque
A couple of weeks ago, I appovingly posted The Rip Off Artists' manifesto. So much for words, though - how is the disc? Well, let's just say you'll be glad to hear that they put their money where their mouths are. Esque has it all - winning melodies, big hooks, clever lyrics, and that certain intangible quality that results from two talented popmeisters joining forces (cf. The Red Button).
For those just tuning in, The Rip Off Artists are Peter Batchelder and Nick Pipitone. Ever since his great 2005 EP Anything I Want to Say, I've been looking forward to new music from Pipitone and although I can't profess familiarity with Batchelder, he more than holds up his end on Esque. The best comparison for their sound is the music of Squeeze or a less-smartassy Fountains of Wayne with the wordplay of Elvis Costello, which becomes apparent right off the bat in Pipitone's "The Present Tense", a track which takes the cliched musical subject of a fighting couple and recasts it with clever lyrical imagery ("But if we break this ice/there's a chance we'll drown", "it's like a soap opera spinoff/of a play by Chekov") as well as imbuing it with a Philly Soul chorus. The first "single" from the disc, "What Happened?" follows, and it's catchy as hell, a piece of classic 60s/70s British pop that would have fit in snugly on the Red Button disc. And it's accompanied by a brilliant video which is at the end of this review.
There are plenty of more goodies to follow: the waltz-time "So Happy", the jangly "The Wishful Thinker", the FoWish (dare I say FoWesque?) "The Girl Behind The Bar", and the dreampop of Batchelder's "Sidetracked". And the final third of the disc is a treasure for the puntastic titles alone - i.e., "Without You I'm Something", "The Look of Like" - but the songs behind them are even better than their monikers, especially the former, and album closer "I Thought It Over" is pitch perfect for this disc. This one's a real top 10 contender, and the highest compliment I can pay it is that no doubt soon enough I'll be praising a disc for being Rip Off Artistesque.
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Now enjoy this sublime video for "What Just Happened?":