Lovewhip | Virtual Booty Machine (Juicy Juju)

cd_lovewhipA blend of live DJ sets, band performance, and cabaret in an irresistible show of dance beats and theatricality





Reggaeton, dance hall, and futuristic electro-funk beats come together in Lovewhip's fourth album, Virtual Booty Machine. Five-time nominees and one-time winners of the Boston Music Award, Lovewhip has amassed thousands of fans and secured themselves opening acts for bands like the B-52's, Scissor Sisters, the Tom Tom Club, and Third World.

Citing influences like the B-52's, Talking Heads, M.I.A., Blondie, and Gwen Stefani, Lovewhip brings its own blend of live DJ sets, band performances, and cabaret. Fronted by Erin Harpe, a.k.a. Empress Erin, the band inundates listeners with irresistible dance beats and theatricality in the hopes of inciting riots on the dance floor.

The first four tracks are original, while the last seven are mixes of the first four, all with their own interesting qualities, such as mixed in calisthenics tape clips on "Bombay Booty Machine." Some of the manipulations take on harsher sounds, such as "Get it on D.O.W.N.," which develops a kind of Shirley Manson sound to Harpe's vocals, and slips in a touch of the xylophone. "Sitting and Loving Dub" has a distinct trip-hop sound, echoey and reminiscent of Thievery Corporation and Tricky; the slow reggae pulse breaks away from the otherwise energetic rhythms of the album. The later remixed tracks have heavy synth distortions and clippy funk moments that at times outmatch the originals.

Again with most bands in this genre that emphasize the sound over lyricism, an unhappy side effect tends to be a focus on the lyrics. When there are so few, listeners expect much more from what's provided, and unfortunately, not much resonates beyond the playfulness of booties, booty machines, and love whips. The average listener dancing away may not pay much attention to this, as evidenced by a majority of poor techno that seems to make it clubside, but for some this might be the downfall of Lovewhip.

The packaging has a suspiciously Target-esque flare to it, with speaker bulls-eyes and the accompanying performers topping the front cover in high contrast whites that offset the scratchy red tinting of the shelves filled with vinyls on the back. The black outlined red fonts are a bit difficult to make out on the back cover, but otherwise, it's a pretty clean sleeve presentation. The CD itself is designed like a speaker with a sixties-style wave going through the Lovewhip title.

All in all, the band churns out some catchy beats and seems to be working toward a stronger influence over its genre. Acquiring a fan base does not seem to be a problem these folks face, but keeping it could be one of the most challenging aspects of their career. Though, as long as success keeps following the tracks they create, Lovewhip should be snappin' out beats for years to come. B- | James Nokes

RIYL: B-52's, M.I.A., Scissor Sisters

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