I don’t know how often you folks clean out your spam folders. Personally, I try to do it a few times a week. Granted, 85% of the time it’s Central African solicitors and Irish Lottery winnings, but occasionally, something slips through. (I often wonder how many of the indecipherable Korean and Chinese mailings are actually press releases for fantastic new bands I’ll never hear because I made the mistake of not learning every language ever.) But it’s the most recent number to be dug from the depths of discarded pyramid schemes which left me nearly breathless from the potential magnitude of such a near miss.
Knickers (I don’t think I need to explain to you why Gmail filed this where they did), are the latest effort from Simon Love (The Loves). According to one interview, by the time The Loves retired on Valentine’s Day 2011, Simon already had plans for Knickers. Still, as the story goes, Sarah answered an ad Simon had posted on Gumtree.com reading “French Girl Wanted”. A few crude demos later, Knickers were formed. To date, the band have only played a handful of gigs (including one last week with Elefant labelmates The School), but word is spreading fast. On my recent trip through the UK, the chat around the record shop circuit (Rough Trade, Spillers, Monorail, Avalanche, etc.) was about Knickers (the band…I checked). I even met a man here in terminally uncool Columbus, Ohio this week who asked me if I knew anything about them.
The word is out, kids – and so is the record – a four-track EP on Elefant Records, that is. And if you’ve ever loved anything on Elefant, it’s an EP you’re going to need – four pop gems inspired by French yé-yé, ’60s garage, and the Velvet Underground. Lead off track, “My Baby’s Just a Baby” is a catchy ode to melodic dirty garage rock. Between a strong stomping melody and a clever video [below] in which Sarah gives the boy bandmates the RealDoll treatment, the lead single makes a compelling case that Knickers are onto something here. And the follow-up tracks are far from filler.
What follows is a fitting tribute to the golden age of pop. “Are You Ready, Girl?” is a crooning cover of what is essentially a lost Kinks tune (written by Dave Davies for an unreleased solo album) and finds singer Sarah channeling Nina Persson at her swooning best. In fact, the hallmarks of the Cardigans’ frontwoman are also a major part of what makes the current EP such a resounding success. Sarah is obviously a woman who knows her way around a hook. It’s her ease of delivery coupled with Simon’s masterful pairing of fuzzed-out and jangly guitars that drives the charging duet of “A Thousand Ways” (a duet that cleverly mirrors the pairing of clean and dirty guitars). And elsewhere, it is the juxtaposition of purity of tone and melody (and doubling glockenspiel) with those same dirty guitars in “Darling” that makes such an indelible impression on the listener and will leave you singing that final hook for days (unless, of course, you’ve left the EP on repeat, as I have, in which case each memorable hook is supplanted by the next, ad infinitum).
Knickers debut EP, My Baby’s Just A Baby, is available digitally and as a limited seven-inch on red vinyl from Elefant Records.
- ‘My Baby’s Just a Baby (But I Love Him So)
- ‘Are You Ready Girl?’
- ‘A Thousand Ways’