After Dark LP
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heatwavemag.com (UK) FEB 2019 The Pale Lips from Montreal are back with their first full-length album since 2016. Their new release, After Dark, has a lot of similarities to their last LP, Wanna Be Bad, but with a little less doo-wap and a little more straight to the point rock n’ roll. Not to say those elements aren’t there, but this album is a perfect showcasing of the band’s growth. After Dark demonstrates a perfect mixture of the band’s cross-generational influences, while still heavily channeling inspiration from Nikki Corvette or The B Girls. The recordings on After Dark seem a bit cleaner than Wanna Be Bad. Normally I’m not a big fan of that sort of progression, but for a record like this it works. Each song on After Dark pulls on the band’s different influences ranging from 60s girl groups, to classic rock n’ roll, the blues, and of course 70s punk, while still creating the atmosphere of a cohesive album. I’ve heard people compare Pale Lips and Baby Shakes before, but I frankly find the comparison somewhat lazy. Like, I get it, they’re both girl bands (well, a predominantly girl band in Baby Shakes’ case) channeling 60s girl groups and The Ramones, but I think watering Pale Lips down like that is just plain rude. These girls are rock n’ roll queens in their own right. The single for this album ‘You’re A Doll’ is literally the perfect bubblegum punk song. It’s got catchy lyrics that paint a picture and an upbeat sound, while perpetuating just the right amount of sass and attitude. If this single doesn’t get you interested in the album, you’ve really come to the wrong place. That same playful attitude is pretty prevalent throughout much of the album, notably so in tracks such as, ‘I’m A Witch.’ ‘I’m A Witch’ feels lighthearted, but at the same time, the way the singer performs almost makes the lyrics sound a bit like a challenge. The album opens in a really catchy upbeat sound with ‘Some Sort of Rock n’ Roll.’ It starts with upbeat fast-paced la-la’s. The lyrics themselves aren’t particularly upbeat to me, referencing a ‘Xanax beauty queen’ and ‘a junkie with a needle in his arm,’ right at the start of the song, but that sounds like rock n’ roll to me. Songs like ‘Hanky Panky Franky’ will have a really wide audience appeal. ‘Hanky Panky Franky’ let 50s rock n’ roll influences dominate, while making you want to swing someone around the dance floor. They bring in different instruments on particular tracks to really help them shine, such as the use of horns on ‘Johnny’ and harmonica on ‘All My Baby Brought Back Was the Blues.’ Both songs could work just fine as rock n’ roll songs without those instruments, but adding them to the mix elevates them from good songs to great songs. Pale Lips will be embarking on their second European tour in February. Unfortunately, they won’t be coming to either of our bases in London or Amsterdam, which we’re honestly pretty sad about, especially after hearing this album, but they will have quite a few in Spain and Germany.
Songs and Out - threesongsandout.com (US) FEB 2019 Let’s pretend
the last 42 years or so of music never happened. We are back in 1977 at a dive
bar, and there are about 5 bands playing tonight. While 4 of the bands may be
alright, they do not do enough to really capture your attention. Then the last
band of the night comes on and that special moment happens at a show when everything
else ceases to matter as the band unleashes one glorious song after another.
The Pale Lips are that band. They channel that classic 70’s Power Pop
chorus Punk sound that takes the riffs of Rock n' Roll originators like Chuck
Berry and apply them to the principles of the Ramones and the Heartbreakers.
These songs are going to stick in your brain like cotton candy does to your
Getting started with ‘Some Sort Of Rock n’ Roll’ sets the template with some initial ‘La, la, la’s’ before we hear about a dysfunctional family, shock therapy and a chorus that commands audience participation. The beat gets the foot moving with the guitar riff dancing all over the top of the beat to great effect. The Pale Lips pack many secret weapons with one of them being the sublime vocals of Jackie Blenkarn who is probably fronting Josie and the Pussycats in some other dimension. ‘I’m A Witch’ begins with the drums (Lynn Poulin) and bass (Jamie Radu, also backing vocals) providing the short intro before the guitar takes us through a touch of the Sonics put through a bubble gum blender. The screamed vocal fits like a glove, and I first thought I heard a reference to a kangaroo near the end. Turns out, it is a nod of the hat to one of their older songs ‘Jangaroo.’ Ilona Szabo’s guitar opens up the wonderful ‘Hanky Panky Franky’ which features an awesome chorus and divine backing vocals. Kids all over should be singing this song all summer long.
Current single and video ‘You’re A Doll’ was our first clue that this was going to be an awesome album. The keyboards add a quirky element to the music that takes the song to a whole other level. Blenkarn sings with a sassy attitude as she points out why this guy should be with her and not the other girl. The high note she hits at the end gets me every time. Changing tactics a bit, they channel the likes of the Ronettes with ‘That Old Ghost Don’t Lie’ adding different textures to their sound. This is one of the areas that really stands out with multiple listens of the album is how these songs all sound like the same band, but there is still plenty of variation in the songs across the album. Ending the first half of the album is the harmonica laced ‘All My Baby Brought Back Was The Blues,’ which opens with a clever double entendre. Take a moment to catch your breath, have some water, and then flip it over for another 6 songs that you need in your life. ‘The Kids’ offers no let up as Poulin and Radu lay down another tight rhythm for this two minute bubblegum blast. There is some tasty saxophone added deep in the mix here which the band then cranks up on follow up song ‘Johnny.’ If you ever wondered what it might sound like if the Ramones covered ‘Exile On Main Street’ with a bubblegum Punk queen singing, this might answer that for you. The band then transition to the longest song on the album ‘Hiding From The Moon,’ which just barely cracks the 3 minute mark. As with all the songs here, the chorus is designed to make a huge impact between Blenharn’s sweetness here and the tasty backing vocals behind her.
‘Show Me Another Way To Your Heart’ finds the band simply laying down the 10th straight winner on the album. I have mentioned them several times but want to make sure I give props to Radu and Szabo for their work on the backing vocals as they serve as a perfect compliment to the lead vocals. The closing harmony on this one makes the hair on my arms raise. The vocals from the three continue to show how perfectly they fit with ‘Doo-Wop Showaddywaddy’ plastering a smile on my face with the hook as sticky as maple syrup. Closer ‘Cosmic Love’ closes the album on another great note with a huge poppy hook grabbed from the 60’s and laced with adrenaline.Pale Lips deliver 12 winners here and have made an album that begs to be played again and again. Trust me, it has been on repeat now for more times than I care to admit. This already feels like a special album that is going to take up residency for large chunks of my 2019 and beyond. Get some Pale Lips in your life. You will not be sorry.
cultmtr.com (CAN ) FEB 2019 Montreal’s Pale Lips are releasing their sophomore album After Dark on Jan. 31, upping the ante on their “droopy mascara slopped rock ‘n’ roll with sprinkles” with a powerful set of new tunes that you can listen to below. As bassist Jamie Radu explained, their second batch of Sonics-, Ramones- and Chuck Berry-influenced pop anthems revolve around a theme that may be surprising: the occult “We have a song called ‘I’m a Witch,’ and ‘Cosmic Love,’ which is about aliens, and ‘Hiding From the Moon,’ which is about werewolves. You know,” she says, “creepy stuff that happens after dark. “But also sexy things,” adds guitarist Ilona Szabo with a laugh “Yeah, exactly,” says Radu. “There’s also lots of songs about boys. Actually I think every song is about boys, except maybe one. Pale Lips will be hitting the road following their hometown launch show this Saturday at Turbo Haus, playing a gig in Ottawa before embarking on a 24-date tour of Europe (!), where they’ve already played and won over audiences big time. Check out the launch show details here, and listen to After Dark right here..
badfeelingmag.com (CAN ) FEB 2019 There was a sweet spot in the 70’s when old-fashioned rock n’ roll and the early onset of punk crossed paths, creating high octane acts like Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers and Canada’s own The Modernettes, bands that melded Chuck Berry riffs with punk rock attitude and armfuls of hooks. Montreal’s Pale Lips straddle both those worlds expertly on their sophomore LP, After Dark, delivering a timeless sounding record that wouldn’t seem out-of-place on a 70’s power-pop compilation, without ever coming off like a calculated revival act. After Dark is a pure, classic rock n’ roll record, with immediately hummable guitar riffs that drive some truly catchy songwriting. “Johnny” features more wailing sax than anything off of Exile on Main Street, while “All My Baby Brought Back Was The Blues” speeds along with some killer harmonica playing. Those RN’R elements, added to the band’s already potent breakneck power-pop sound, make for an exciting and eminently re-listenable album, with singer Jackie Blenkarn powerfully crooning and growling her way across the album’s 12 fun tracks. Pale Lips are here to provide a good time, and After Dark is likely to get even the grumpiest punks at the back of the bar to cut a rug. (GS)