Just The Tip
8th April 2015 – Best Before Records
01. Party Hard – Andrew WK
02. Duality – Slipknot
03. SeanAPaul Medley
04. Rollin’ – Limp Bizkit
05. I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing – Aerosmith
06. Gloryhole – Steel Panther
For many years, if you wanted to hear radical and humorous reworkings of songs from across the alternative spectrum (and beyond) in a lounge style, the one name you could rely upon was Richard Cheese – but after a whirlwind year of high profile festival performances, internet buzz and a tour with Steel Panther, Southampton trio The Lounge Kittens are moving in on his territory.
But let’s be clear: The Lounge Kittens are no rip-offs, to the point they have studiously avoided any tracks previously given the Cheese treatment. And whilst Mr Cheese fills out his tunes with a full band, The Lounge Kittens rely on just a piano and three female voices, working – as we shall see – in perfect harmony.
Somewhat unusually, whilst the provocatively titled Just The Tip EP is their debut release, videos for all six tracks are already swirling around the internet. It would probably be fair to say that these videos – professionally shot and featuring the three girls messing about in a variety of outfits and locations – represent the very best way for the uninitiated to experience the Kittens, as they really capture the sense of fun that permeates both the music and their live performances.
So, The Lounge Kittens are unabashedly having a good time with their art. But as we know, for many, metal is a deadly serious business. As these videos have made their way across the social networks, some rather joyless fans of the featured artists (Slipknot, I’m looking at you in particular) have reacted to them as though they are some form of heresy – which is missing the point entirely, but does make for some unfathomable and startling comments in YouTube’s dreaded bottom half. The simple fact remains that whilst the Kittens rework cherished classics in a playfully irreverant manner, it is clear to all but the witless they are not being remotely disrespectful.
Of course, there’s no denying that one of the most immediate joys to be found in experiencing the Kittens is derived from watching pretty girls in posh frocks using sugarsweet voices to sing incredibly filthy things. This is best witnessed in their version of Steel Panthers “Glory Hole“, which in turn is made all the more hilarious by the decision to not amend the lyrics from the male perspective of the original.
However, with no material on Just The Tip that hasn’t seen the light of day previously, one might wonder what benefit could be gained from the purchase of the EP – but decoupling the tracks from their thoroughly amusing videos focuses the listeners attention squarely on the intricate and thoughtful harmonies, and these harmonies are significantly more gorgeous than they really needed to be, lifting the release from an amusing curio into something more lasting. What’s more, leaving all accompaniment duties to a single keyboard gives these sumptuous harmonies the room to breathe and be properly appreciated. Certainly, for rock bands who flirt with multi-part harmonies, the EP could be considered something of a masterclass in arrangements.
The single biggest problem faced by any combination of music and comedy is that the jokes inevitably wear thin over time. This is particularly true in the case of the “SeanaPaul Medley“, where the device of the girls adopting the necessary dancehall accents doesn’t quite sustain itself, even over the tracks own six minute run-time. But the remaining tracks are short and snappy, shorn of any excess fat. The real high-point of the EP is their take on Aerosmith‘s cheesefest “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing“. Stripped back to the bare essentials and given a sinister, stalker vibe (expanded upon in the video), there’s a strong case to be made that this version is genuinely better than the original.
Of course, one other tangible benefit of The Kittens’ minimalist approach (apart from the fact that three girls and a keyboard fit far more comfortably into a tour van than five hairy lads with a drum kit and backline) is that it does not require Herculean levels of effort and coordination to introduce new songs to their repertoire – even if it’s clear they lavish close attention upon those harmonies. So I suspect that these specific tracks may not all feature in their live shows for long, but there are plenty more awaiting the Kitten treatment.
There’s no avoiding the fact that the Kittens are primarily a novelty act, but one executed with both talent and barely concealed joy. Quite frankly, if you can listen to Just The Tip from beginning to end without a smile flickering across your lips, then call a doctor – you may be dead inside. As the title suggests, all being well, this EP represents only the first step on The Lounge Kittens’ lighthearted adventure.