The third COS album '99 cents' is a record I have waited for. Chicks On Speed predated the electroclash scene, and have managed to stay relevant afterwards.
This summer, the last time they passed through the Boston area, they played many of the songs on this record, but the songs were visibly held together by very loose threads.
Now the finished full length is here, and I like many of the songs, though not the most immediate ones, or the ones with guest appearances. I enjoy the oddball songs like 99 cents, Sell-out and Lovelife.
- Shooting From The Hip This track has rocking guitar/bass/drum music that sounds only a shade removed from B-52 songs such as Private Idaho, but the song is all Chicks On Speed due to the lyrics and delivery, which don't sound like anyone except themselves.
- We Don't Play Guitars The second single from '99 cents' (Fashion rules was the first), We Don't Play Guitars seemed played out before it was even released. The CD5 and the 12inch have different mixes. The 12inch versions (with Chicken Lips and Tiefschwarz) are pretty fine, as they don't use much of the vocals at all.
- Wordy Rappinghood Cover of the classic Tom Tom club song, performed pretty much as a straight cover of the original. About a dozen guest vocalists do a verse each in the song, including Miss Kittin, Lepper (who DJs as Acid Maria at Salon Mieze), Jill Mingo (the DJ Jill Mingo-go who used to post a lot on the Pop Nouveau list), Kevin Blechdom, Nicola Kuperus (of Adult.), Soffy O. (of Missy Queen's Gonna Die fame), Inga Humpe (of it-sounds), Kathleen Hanna (of Le Tigre), Johanna Fateman, J.D. Samson, along with the wonderful creator of this song, Tina Weymouth of Tom Tom Club (and further back, Talking Heads).
- Coventry This song is a major departure for COS. The song sounds like it could be on a Donna Regina record. They lyrics cover people and places that the band have observed. It is a good song once you get past the mellow vocals and Brazilian guitar.
- 99 cents The title song is one of the best things the band has ever done, along with the next song Sell-out. The song moves through many different segments, and seems to come from the heart.
- Sell-out Many people have always suspected COS of being merchandisers at hear, looking to hook a fast buck from their adoring fans. Sell-out takes this idea and runs with it, producing my second favorite cut on the album.
- Culture Vulture A decent enough track, but it hasn't left an impression on me yet. I keep thinking it is Nicola Kuperus shouting the song's title, but I can't find any credits to confirm or deny this.
- Universal Pussy A cheerleader-like shout along that is pretty good. It is the song i like best after my three favorites, 99 cents, Sell-out and Lovelife.
- Lovelife The lyrics tell tales of people in the fashion world living shallow lives that aren't quite as happy as you may have thought. The music is first rate, and the lyrics sound like they are written with meaning. A sampling of the lyric: "Hanayo lives in Berlin, cos she says the rent is cheap. Couldn't afford that lifestyle, Tokyo's so fast and steep."
- Shick Shaving Miss Kittin's guest song appears to have been written as a joke on her accented pronunciation of Chicks On Speed's name. As such, the song doesn't have any meaning or authenticity. It just doesn't go anywhere.
- Fashion Rules We all know this song already. I like the track, particularly the way it start's by sampling Daft Punk's One More Time. But when I listen to '99 cents,' I always skip this track (heard it too many times). At least I used to, until I discovered the bonus track at the end of this song. 5:58 into Fashion Rules is a bonus track called Flame On that was produced by Mika Vainio, and is pretty darn great! If this bonus track is not on any licensed versions of '99 cents' on other labels, it is worth trying to find the Chicks On Speed Records version to have Flame On.