Some reviews about Josie Cotton’s latest album titled “Pussycat Babylon” have been misleading as they would have you believe that Josie had abandoned her jangly guitar driven 60’s girl group sound, embraced electronics, and transformed herself into a 21st century female version of 80’s era Gary Numan, or something. Well, after listening to Pussycat Babylon I can say that isn’t quite true. Yes, Josie Cotton has embraced electronics, but she has not totally abandoned guitars and her 60’s sound….and that’s a good thing.
In the 1980’s Josie glorified the power pop sounds of the 1960’s girl groups with the two excellent albums, “Convertible Music,” and “From the Hip.” With songs like “Stop Me,” “Johnny Are You Queer?” “Another Girl” (man oh man, do I love that angst ridden song “I felt like I was naked, stripped of all my pride, there you were with another girl, you didn’t even see me when you walked by”), and License to Dance” Josie brought the 60’s dancing into the 80s with jangly guitars and groovy cheesy organs.
Now over 20 years later Josie Cotton adds synthesizers and other electronics to her 60’s musical palette. Pussycat Babylon still maintains Josie’s 60’s sensibilities, but adds 80’s synths and 21st electronics creating an original and unique piece of music which contains the same youthful enthusiasm found in her 80’s work.
Pussycat Babylon is an excellent album in which Josie Cotton successfully fuses throbbing, synthesized electronics and 60’s guitar work creating a captivatingly and enthralling album that is a hellava lot of fun. The maddening electronics are not at all cold and alienating, they are warm engaging, festive, spirited, delirious and oh so danceable (think Ladytron blitzed on pink champagne cocktails).
Aside from great instrumentation Pussycat Babylon has some really great songs with clever lyrics. Josie grabs your attention when she sings with sass things like, “I’m bad enough to be spanked,” (all righty now!), or “I got tired of being sweet,” or “I’m just a girl whose become the destroyer of worlds (had me thinking, “rock my world baby….please!”).
Pussycat Babylon is loaded with excellent tracks, the stand outs are “Calling All Girls,” “Recipe For Disaster” (my personal favorite), “All I Can See Is the Face of Bruce Lee,” and “If A Lie Was Love.” Josie actually out does her self when she remakes her own 80’s chestnut “Johnny Are You Queer?” (only it’s now titled “Johnny R U Queer?”). This new version tosses out the 60’s jangly guitar and cheesy organs; it’s now a thumping 4x4 beat electronic onslaught, definitely made for today’s dance floors.
Vocally, Josie Cotton sounds exactly the same as she did in the 80s, only now she does some nice vocal nuances and stop motion phrasing. What I mean by “stop motion phrasing” is in her delivery she makes these effective pauses. For example in Johnny R U Queer she emotes “You, hurt, me, so-o.” Also back in the day, her 60’s girl group vocals were chirpy and teenager-ish. Today her girl group voice (unchanged) has a dangerous sexy edge to it. Also in the original 80’s Johnny Are You Queer, Josie sounded stressed and anxious, like if in trying to figure out if Johnny was straight or gay was causing her to lose her mind. In the new electronic dance version she sounds like a hungry cougar and gay or straight she’s gonna jump Johnny’s bones and take his body (and he’s gonna like it).
Today there are many synth pop bands that sound like someone else, and many of them sound like Depeche Mode. One of the great things about Pussycat Babylon is that it does not sound like anyone except Josie Cotton.
80’s synth influences on Pussycat Babylon? There aren’t any, as I said it’s a totally original and modern piece of work. But you know, I also just purchased Duran Duran’s latest, All You Need Is Now, and it sounds like Josie’s album. I say that because Pussycat Babylon was released within the last three months of 2010 and DD’s just came out a couple of months ago. It sounds like DD copied her as they are remarkably alike in sound. Both albums contains throbbing, fuzzy, frenetic synths, and keyboard work that goes through all the various moods and tones.
So, if safe to say that if you are enjoying D2’s All You Need Is Now, you will love Josie Cotton’s Pussycat Babylon. Oh, and in reading the production information I saw that Ms. Cotton plays her own keyboards…the girl is all that and then some!
Do yourself a favor and travel to Babylon, Pussycat Babylon that is with Josie Cotton, you will be glad that you did.
Artist Link: http://www.scruffyrecords.com