The Sick Lipstick – Sting Sting Sting

The Sick Lipstick
Sting Sting Sting

A few months ago, I reviewed an EP by the Sick Lipstick. It was chock full of the sort of twitchy, spastic, lady-fronted dance-punk that Greil Marcus usually messes his pants over. I don’t know if Mr. Marcus ever gave that old gal a listen, but I’m fairly sure he would like the band’s debut full-length Sting Sting Sting as much as he probably would their previous record. Upping the load from six songs to 12, the Sick Lipstick has replicated the strengths of the EP, extending that record’s tone and tenor to its logical long-playing conclusion. And like the EP, it’s fucking great.
Both on Sting Sting Sting and abroad, the Lipstick make like a modern-day Huggy Bear with a noise fixation. Their fairly brief spurts of rhythmic noise punk, led by Linsdey Gillard’s almost annoyingly chirpy vocals, meld the passion and sex politics of them riot ladies with the retardo squeal of Load Records and the dance beat of the Contortions. You shouldn’t put too much stock into riot girl comparisons, however; the Sick Lipstick are far more interesting musically than Bikini Kill or that ilk ever were. The keyboard, guitar, and drums line-up kicks up quite a furious racket, occasionally akin to Oneida around the time of their Steel Rod EP. On “Thigh-Master I’m Yr. Master,” the Lipstick sounds like the Screamers, the Fall, and Teenage Jesus and the Jerks having a three-way orgy out back in the toolshed. That’s an amazingly gross image, actually, but it makes for one hell of a good song. Not content with rote punk recidivism or atonal experimental meandering, the Sick Lipstick captures the relevant qualities from both, straps them to a disco beat, and creates some of the most insistent and deliriously enjoyable noise around.
I don’t mean to reduce the band to a mere list of references, but when a contemporary group sifts so deftly through the shards and fragments of some of your favorite groups of long ago, it’s easy to get caught up in namechecking. The Sick Lipstick does contain elements similar to a legion of other like-minded musical compatriots; at the same time the band succeeds in not really sounding like any other specific group, however. The musicians always sound like themselves, which can become something of a double-edged sword. As I wrote above, Sting Sting Sting is a fine extension of the worldview first espoused on the EP; there is not any dramatic difference between the two, though, in either quality or sound. Both are great, both are worth listening to, and since Sting Sting Sting is their debut LP, the lack of growth since the earlier release is completey fine, acceptable, and expected. Perhaps by album number two we should start to look for some signs of stylistic variation.