Sing-Sing – Madame Sing-Sing EP

Madame Sing-Sing EP

Time doesn’t seem to move particularly fast in the world of Sing-Sing. Since former Lush guitarist/songwriter Emma Anderson hooked-up with her second musical soulmate, Lisa O’Neill, way back in 1997, the twosome have hardly worked-up a frenetic pace in their release schedules. Admittedly, unwanted label hassles delayed the release of the duo’s deliciously diverse debut – The Joy of Sing-Sing – to 2001 (or even later if you live on US soil), but it’s certainly true that the twosome are consummate perfectionists, hell-bent on constantly redefining their sound as well as their songwriting, however long it takes, an attitude that is both the strength and undoing of the band’s existence on this brand new four-track EP.
Whereas the aforementioned debut had more musical mood-swings than a manic depressive trapped in a revolving door, flipping from disco to dusty balladry and from indie-Motown to incisive electro-pop within the space of just 12 tracks, this new EP sees the duo dead-set on a newer, more centrally focused vision. Embracing a sound that is darker and dirtier than anything Sing-Sing have dabbled with before, it’s unlikely that lazy hacks will feel comfortable tossing out lazy Saint Etienne comparisons again. They are, however, more than certain to cast comparisons with the sleazoid electro grime of Goldfrapp’s Black Cherry. With O’Neill prowling with vampish lust and dread and Anderson cooking up a thick broth of guitar gristle and scuzzy electronica, the similarities will be quite striking to some. But accusations of plagiarism aside, it’s certainly an approach that works fairly well, especially on the opening “Ruby,” wherein O’Neill truly seems to revel in the song’s misanthropic comic-menace. The next two tracks, “A Modern Girl” and “Every Day,” are markedly less successful, thanks to some horribly lazy lyrics (like the Madonna-like couplet, “I’m just a modern girl / Trying to get along in a modern world”) and overly repetitious instrumental backing tracks. Thankfully though, the EP’s standout track – “I Do” – is saved until last. Peeling back the electro-grind exteriors of the first three cuts, O’Neill’s sonorous tones are given room to breathe over electric and acoustic pianos, rubbery bass, harmonica, and Human League-like drum sounds, in the process adding something entirely new to Sing-Sing’s already multi-coloured palette.
As a stand-alone piece, this EP is lacking somewhat, but as a stepping-stone to the next Sing-Sing album proper (due later this year, all being well), it serves its purposes in redirecting the duo’s admirable pop vision on to some even more adventurous new routes. Just as long as the Anderson/O’Neill partnership maintains the eclectic approach of the first album, whilst adding to and subtracting from elements presented here, then we could be in for another unpretentious pop treat when Sing-Sing’s sophomore set hits the stores.