An odd idea this one. A celebration of Balearic geology, in the unexpected form of a club night featuring a Zane Lowe DJ set, a doo-wopping girl band in a rash of polka dots, a lysergic rockband from Shrewsbury and some dancing girls. Displaying no obvious affiliation to the White Isle other than the reference to sunshine in their chosen moniker, The Sunshine Underground take to the stage to highlight the egalitarian nature of contemporary rock’n’roll. Bands used to be the domain of the pained social misfit attempting to vent his pain or the strutting extrovert looking to maximise their audience. These days, it seems every fucker’s at it. The Sunshine Underground’s main man Craig looks like the sort of geezer you’d see in one of those shitey Lloyds bars: not a bad lad, but completely unable to see beyond his myopic, small town horizons and his job in the call centre. By no rights should he be in band. And he certainly shouldn’t be in a band with such an expansive and well-executed sound as The Sunshine Underground.
Musically they aim for the same epic, driving soundscapes as Boy Kill Boy and The Killers, but achieve their goal with an obvious aversion to sonic cliché and oozing a languid charm you can’t help but be taken in by. The en-vogue dance floor sensibilities are in place, cow-bells and an emphasis on the beats get peoples feet moving – not necessarily an easy matter on the day that England play their first world cup game, and 97% of The Plug's inhabitants appear to have been on an all day session. But whilst being an ‘everyman’ works in some bands favour, The Sunshine Underground might just be a little bit too everyman in an increasingly crowded marketplace, which is a pity because you can imagine songs like ‘Commercial Breakdown’ and ‘I Aint Losing Any Sleep’ munching up a big festival crowd.
The Pipettes pimp a bit more visual pizzazz with no reciprocal down-turn in the tunes. Drawing from a radically different pool of influences to The SU, they relive the glories of Motown and Spector, but put their own glitterydisco, tongue-in-cheek spin on it, This is no pastiche, but songs like ‘One Night Stand’- replete with audience handclapping - do plaster a big smile all over your chops, and make you wonder why we stopped producing records like this in the 60’s.
Becki, the brunette Pipette, enchants with her warm, earthy voice whilst Gwenno (sexy pipette) and Rose (secretary pipette) are a bit more wobbly. In the world of girl bands this fact does not auger well: think The Supremes. Mark Gigwise’s words, first Becki will shack up with their manger, then in 6 months time we’ll have a name change to Becky and the Pipettes. Finally she’ll ditch them altogether and go solo to massive acclaim. In the meantime, ‘Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me’ gambols along like a playful lamb and new single ‘Pull Shapes’ – unfortunately not called ‘Bull Shit’, as Gigwise first thought – sees The Plug fall for their charms once and for all. If the masses can get past the matching outfits and rubbish dance routines, they’ll find mellifluous and soulful band waiting for ‘em.