tremble clef

Thursday, September 13, 2007

W.I.T., "Just What I Needed" (2003)

In early October, Felix Da Housecat will release his third album, which makes this the perfect occasion to ask: oh my god, was it really only six or seven years ago when electroclash was all the rage? It feels like decades. All things considered, a good number of acts have survived that cultural moment when electroclash threatened to simply be a flavor of the month, if with diminished cachet (it's easy to forget, for instance that, with "Electrobix," Scissor Sisters was considered part of that scene).

W.I.T., on the other hand, never really got off the ground, which is a bit surprising given that they were the brainchild of electroclash's "founder," Larry Tee. The act is made up of three women: Melissa Burns, Christine Doza, and Mandy Coon. Melissa is the one with the Farrah do and blow-up doll mouth; Christine is the especially trannytastic one; and Mandy, according to the sleeve notes, doesn't actually sing on the record, although she would go on to provide some vocals for LCD Soundsystem (and handclaps on "Disco Infiltrator"!).

W.I.T. released one album whose title explains both the group's name as well as, one would assume, its ethos: Whatever It Takes. The Amazon marketplace has copies for a couple of bucks each, which is already more than what I found it for in a physical record store. The album is, um, worth that, certainly. It's a pretty fun record: the singing is never as sneery as Miss Kittin's, and the music leaned more towards synthpop than the harder sounds of some other electroclash acts.

My favorite track on the album is the band's superior cover of The Cars' "Just What I Needed." It's not as if the original wasn't already new wavy, but Larry Tee makes it even more so by jettisoning the chugging rhythm guitar and instead making the delicious synth riff the centerpiece of the song. Thus, after a bleepy intro, the girls asks, "Are you ready? Let's go!" And then the riff enters, making the most of its grand introduction. Furthermore, in both versions the riff is always played twice, but with a differing last note; in Ric Ocasek's original the first iteration ends with a "down" note before it comes back for a second go-round with an "up" one. W.I.T.'s version reverses that order, and the riff somehow sounds more ecstatic as a result. The only disappointing aspect of the remake lies in the way W.I.T. changed the couplet, "It's not the perfume that you wear/It's not the ribbons in your hair" to "It's not the clothing that you wear/It's not the perfume in your hair." I guess they did so because they would later name the song's addressee as a "boy," but it's not as if a man with perfume in his hair is any less queer than one with ribbons.

As a bonus, here's one more track from W.I.T. I enjoy: the album closer, "Inside Out." It's not a cover of the Odyssey song (Electribe 101 did that), but rather a Larry Tee original with spoken verses and a dreamy chorus (during which one of the girls almost sounds like she's singing, "I wet myself..." Fergalicious!).


  • in Ric Ocasek's original the first iteration ends with a "down" note before it comes back for a second go-round with an "up" one.

    I don't have the Cars version to listen to right now but isn't it the other way around?

    Anyway, I like how the vocals are kind of off-key (maybe just not very polished) but charming.

    By Blogger daavid, at 4:14 AM  

  • No, I think the Cars version weirdly starts down before it goes back up, but I am not very musical and could be wrong. There is a link to the mp3 of the Cars version in the post if you want to listen.

    Yes, she is barely hitting the notes, isn't she? It's sort of sweet.

    By Blogger Brittle, at 10:22 AM  

  • I'll pay attention, thanks. Do you mean "up" and "down" as in a pitch slide within the note or do you mean the the tone of last note on the riff?

    By Blogger daavid, at 3:39 AM  

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