The Pipettes are like the Menudo of indie pop with an ever-changing lineup that seems to rotate its membership every 12 months. For their second album, the girls—once a trio of chic, cheeky vocalists in matching polka-dot dresses—have slimmed themselves down to a duo, and they’ve given up their ‘60s pop pastiche for a sound that’s more Bananarama than Phil Spector. Earth vs. Pipettes is a dance record, featuring a dozen songs culled from a sleek mix of disco, Euro-pop, and New Wave.
As before, the singers aren’t really calling the shots here; that role goes to Monster Bobby, who formed the group in 2003 and continues to oversee the backup band, and producer Martin Rushent, who helped transform Human League into synthpop royalty in 1981. Together, Bobby and Rushent steer the Pipettes into charming territory, making up for the girls’ gauzy voices with killer songwriting and period-appropriate production. Part Carter/Reagan-era nostalgia, part sci-fi fantasy, and part Kylie Minogue/Scissor Sisters throwback cheese, Earth Vs. Pipettes gets new mileage out of a group once thought to be out of gas with songs like “Our Love Was Saved by Spacemen” and “Call Me” serving as the album’s answer to “Pull Shapes.”