Music News

Chicks on Speed

Since forming in Munich in 1997, Chicks on Speed has evolved from a proto-electroclash pastiche to a boutique busker of buzzing electro. The multinational assembly of German Kiki Moorse, New Yorker Melissa Logan, and Australian Alex Murray-Leslie originated as art academy feminists, designing clothing that doubled as collages. Following suit, the trio's agitated albums of lo-fi haute couture have grown as sprawling as its art scrawls.

As CoS emphasizes on the title track of its third full-length, 99 Cents, shopping is a cultural activity. Since fashion is all about who you know and what you wear, the album is speckled with fashionable cameos. Peaches, Miss Kittin, Nicola Kuperus of Adult., Le Tigre, and Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club) are just some of the voices that ride alongside the group's cheerleader shrieks. As for the music, it is a glue-gunned ensemble of loose threads -- fuzz-face guitars, shrill synths, blunt beats, and growling glamour.

With 99 Cents, CoS gives its two cents on capitalism and conceptual art; through their ready-made tracks, the three women not only leave the seams showing but they let them fray. Though its politics may grate on some people's nerves, it helps that the trio struts with a fleshy display of coherent philosophy and musical variety that's more substantive than previous efforts.

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Tony Ware