Ex-Pipette Rose Elinor Dougall swaps the polka dot three-piece for “a grown up vision of solo ecstasy”.
It wasn’t exactly Sugababes or Destiny’s Child-sized media coverage of the band reformation of The Pipettes in 2008. Whereas Heidi and Amelle of Sugababes fame had lad mags heralding their newfound pop status (though more attention was paid on the length of their legs than the size of their lungs), and Michelle took to the background behind Beyonce and Kelly like the other myriad dropouts never would, allowing for column inches to dote on Ms Knowles’ newfound status as Queen DC, Rose Elinor Dougall’s, shall we say, chart-redundancy cheque never really ruffled many feathers.
It’s a shame because The Pipettes were notably one of the best outfits of the last decade. Pull Shapes was said to be the aforementioned Ms Knowles song of choice at a birthday bash not even two years ago (how incestuous do these pop circles get?), and debut album We Are The Pipettes had a string of amazingly catchy intelligent pop hits that sounded as inoffensively superfluous as granny’s Long Plays, with biting lyrics that wouldn’t seem out of place from the likes of Catherine Tate-lite Lily Allen. “I like a boy in uniform, school uniform…” early demo, surprisingly entitled, I Like a Boy in Uniform (School Uniform) sang, cutting the perfect line between cheeky sugar-coated sex-fest and innocent plonky-tonk radio fair. There were others, Judy, Dirty Mind, Your Kisses Are Wasted on Me, all heralding this new intelligent “adult pop” movement, and though a dreary placement of #43 in the British Charts didn’t exactly mean Rolexes and stretch black cabs for all, it was a respectable following. Though not purely on their own, The Pipettes, and mentor Monster Bobby, reinvigorated the pop scene when they travelled the clubs in trademark polka dot floozy dresses, rhyming about the trials and tribulations of horny girls, written in collaboration with singer and poet Julia Clark-Lowes, who was inspired by Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty's The Manual - I bet such highbrow inspirations weren’t in place when Britney was aligning Breakout’s tracks.
But enough about The Pipettes. That’s not why we’re here. Not really. Announced in April 2008, Rose quit the band after four years as a founder member. She decided that she “Didn't have any more to offer to the group” and announced through Pitchfork.com that she was putting together a solo record. That’s why we’re here: “Another Version Of Pop Song” released on limited edition 7” through Scarlett records.
Though not a million miles away from The Pipettes' signature pop-with-a-twist sound that harked back to the wireless falsetto warble and classical instrument accompaniment of wartime fare, Rose's foray into grown-up music is definitive look-at-me, clever falsetto-with-a-beat. And though before she was more than happy to sing about being a bit tipsy or wanting to shag an ex-lover, now she’s moved onto a deeper plateaux. She’s a big girl now don’t you know. Just look at her new influences: gone are Fuzzbox, 60s handclaps, The Ronnettes and The Shangri-Las, now she sounds like, and offers gentle accreditation to, Broadcast, Penguin Café Orchestra and The Silver Apples. She even travels with serious music’s bedfellows Film School and British Sea Power. Wowsa.
Asked what inspired her new single, Rose says, "After being in The Pipettes, which was very much based around the idea of writing 'pop' songs, I was thinking about how those processes and ideas related to my own personal song writing now, being outside of that structure, and this is something that came out of that time. I suppose it is about the first couple of weeks that you meet someone you are interested in being around, not believing in forever but enjoying the experience all the same. I would hope for it to induce complete unadulterated ecstasy." I aside a likening to the modern salt-of-the-earth potty mouths that dominate the British Charts at the minute - by trying to evolve and change her sound and appear ‘different’ hasn‘t she, in fact, fallen into pop’s latest love affair: gobby perma-accented lyrical witticisms on a breakneck beat? “Don't you dare tell me it reminds you of Kate Nash, ‘cos I'll stab your eyes out!" she says.
Rose Elinor Dougall‘s debut single Another Version Of Pop Song is on limited release December 8 with a full album in Summer 2009.