When I was in college I took a History of Clothing class that was taught by Professor Wilkins. I remember on the first day of that class Professor Wilkins said to the class that she would stand on her head, make funny faces and do whatever it takes to have the full attention of the class. Well Professor Wilkins did not have to stand on her head as she was such an excellent instructor that she held the class hostage with her enthralling teaching style. Her lectures where so riveting that I never studied, never took notes and I aced every test and exam and walked away with an A in that class.
Like Professor Wilkins the electroclash trio W.I.T does "Whatever It Takes" to gain and keep your attention. The CD “Whatever It Takes” feeds you synthesized electronics that are heavy handed, breezy, caustic, churning and throbbing. Produced by Mogul Electro record prez Larry Tee, W.I.T gives you a synthetic electronic history lesson that begins in the 70's with the Cars and Blondie and deposits you breathless into the 21st century with images of Miss Kittin and Ladytron. “Whatever It Takes” is exhilarating hip punk synth pop delivered in sometimes-detached, sometimes-deadpan, sometimes-robotic vocals all the time with attitude.
On “Whatever It Takes” you will find smatterings of some of the usual influential legendary synth pop suspects like, Bobby “O”, Kraftwerk, Book Of Love and Giorgio Moroder. But producer Larry Tee also creates his own unique and original electronic stamp that is so excellent that 20 years from now I suspect that you will find him listed as an influential electronic legend among the synth popsters of the year 2023.
Knowing absolutely nothing about W.I.T or Larry Tee I purchased “Whatever It Takes” based on the hype I’d heard about W.I.T over the past year. On the sexy CD cover the ladies of W.I.T are dressed in slinky glamorous gowns like erotically sultry 1930’s Hollywood movie sirens. They brought to mind the Ritchie Family’s "Life is music" album cover and Silver Convention's "Greatest Hits" CD booklet cover which were also glamorous sultry and sexy. Though the CD cover is fetching I automatically thought "Oh no not another disco girl group and probably a low grade imitation of the Flirts.” I didn't expect much; boy was I in for a big surprise. No sound alike vapid eyed disco divas these as Larry Tee gives the women the vocal freedom to insert as much or as little of their own persona into the songs they sing. Coming across as a vocal mixture of the ladies of Ladytron, Miss Kittin, the Flirts and Bardeux, “Whatever It Takes” is a true collaboration as Larry Tee refrains from treating these women like singing puppets and allows them to cut loose (in a detached way). Through out the album you get the feeling that Larry Tee and W.I.T are partners and in each track you can hear them working together.
Loaded with new wave-ish electro noir W.I.T never comes across as juvenile. The Flirts were like that hot sexy summer period right after graduation from high school but before college starts. But W.I.T is like the Flirts in college now independent and expressing their ideas and asserting their individuality. Thus like the Russian duo t.A.T.u they exude with their own personality as they take Larry Tee's words and make them their own.
It's obvious that Larry Tee was an undergrad at the same song writing university as Book Of Love's Ted Ottaviano as descriptive lyrics and unforgettably catchy melodies flourish through out this remarkable CD. But why was there only a CD card and not a booklet? I'd love to have the lyrics to these fantastic tunes and know what brand of keyboards, computers and drum machines were used in the creation of this unforgettable album.
It is written that Bananarama and the PWL team had a blast creating the now classic "WOW!" album. One listen to “WOW!” and you know that this is true as the spontaneous fun comes across in the music. I imagine that Larry Tee and W.I.T had just as much fun making "Whatever It Takes" as enthusiastic good feeling vibrations shine through in each shimmering track.
I could definitely relate to the Book Of Love-ish "Inside Out", with it's dreamy and strangely skewed electronics it also reminded me of Soft Cell and A Flock of Seagulls. W.I.T practically throws electricity at you in the track "Ooh I like it"; with caustic scratchy synth work it brought to mind Bardeux's "When we kiss". The cut "It Kills" will immediately remind you of Spray. The track "Whatever It Takes" with its blurred Ladytron-like vocals gives a nod to Donna Summer's Giorgio Moroder produced "I Feel Love" while the intro to "Playboy" is straight out of Blondie's "Heart of Glass".
W.I.T’s clever remake of the Cars classic "Just What I needed" is a scream. While Benjamin Orr sang lead on the original version Ric Ocasek, Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes background vocals were filled with an urgent passion. There is no passion or urgency in W.I.T’s background vocals as they don't exert themselves and purposely sound detached. Not much effort is put into the halfhearted "aaahs" and "yeahs" that weave through quirky electronics. This works like a charm creating a punk-ish attitude that is absolutely wonderful; it’s glamorous electronic punk.
Kraftwerk's electronic masterpiece "Numbers" is the template used to create the wicked "Hold Me, Touch Me". It's really appropriate that legendary producer Arthur Baker co-produces this hot track as he used this same template to produce the electro r&b classics "Play At Your Own Risk" by Planet Patrol and "Planet Rock" by Afrika Bambaattaa and Soul Sonic Force. This track leaves you mesmerized as drooling electricity drones along over synthesized syncopation that is similar to Miss Kittin and the Hacker’s "L'Homme Dans L'Ombre". This stellar track caused me to pull out Ganymede's “Euromantique” and listen to "Are You Falling In Love Again" as it also uses Kraftwerk’s "Numbers" template.
Coated in phasing creamy synth washes the Bobby "O"-ish "I Surrender" brings to mind Pleasure and the Beast's "Dr. Sex" and the Flirts' haunting classic "Calling All Boys" with vocals that are not as cold and harsh as Nicola Kuperus’ of Adult, but containing a frigid warmth like that of Ladytron or Miss Kittin.
Always the sign of a great album "Whatever It Takes" sent me back into my CD collection to listen to Ganymede, the Flirts, the Cars, Bardeux, Spray and Kraftwerk. This great CD joins Miss Kittin and the Hacker's "First Album", Ganymede's "Euromantique" and Echo Image's "Compuphonic" as my favorite CDs so far in the 21st century. W.I.T’s “Whatever It Takes” is grand fun; it’s a treat for the mind body and soul. The fascinating construction of the lyrics keeps you an interested listener while the electronic beats work your body; this electronic history lesson was indeed a joy to listen to and gets an “A”.
Don’t burn it, buy it.
Artist Link: http://www.WITnyc.com