Pale Lips – After Dark

Pale Lips
After Dark
Spaghetty Town Records (US), God’s Candy Records (Canada)
and Alien Snatch Records (Europe)
January 31, 2019

The Pale Lips from Montreal are back with their first full-length album since 2016. Their new release, After Dark, has a lot of similarities to their last LP, Wanna Be Bad, but with a little less doo-wap and a little more straight to the point rock n’ roll.

Not to say those elements aren’t there, but this album is a perfect showcasing of the band’s growth. After Dark demonstrates a perfect mixture of the band’s cross-generational influences, while still heavily channeling inspiration from Nikki Corvette or The B Girls.

The recordings on After Dark seem a bit cleaner than Wanna Be Bad. Normally I’m not a big fan of that sort of progression, but for a record like this it works. Each song on After Dark pulls on the band’s different influences ranging from 60s girl groups, to classic rock n’ roll, the blues, and of course 70s punk, while still creating the atmosphere of a cohesive album.

I’ve heard people compare Pale Lips and Baby Shakes before, but I frankly find the comparison somewhat lazy. Like, I get it, they’re both girl bands (well, a predominantly girl band in Baby Shakes’ case) channeling 60s girl groups and The Ramones, but I think watering Pale Lips down like that is just plain rude. These girls are rock n’ roll queens in their own right.

The single for this album ‘You’re A Doll’ is literally the perfect bubblegum punk song. It’s got catchy lyrics that paint a picture and an upbeat sound, while perpetuating just the right amount of sass and attitude. If this single doesn’t get you interested in the album, you’ve really come to the wrong place.

That same playful attitude is pretty prevalent throughout much of the album, notably so in tracks such as, ‘I’m A Witch.’ ‘I’m A Witch’ feels lighthearted, but at the same time, the way the singer performs almost makes the lyrics sound a bit like a challenge.

The album opens in a really catchy upbeat sound with ‘Some Sort of Rock n’ Roll.’ It starts with upbeat fast-paced la-la’s. The lyrics themselves aren’t particularly upbeat to me, referencing a ‘Xanax beauty queen’ and ‘a junkie with a needle in his arm,’ right at the start of the song, but that sounds like rock n’ roll to me.

Songs like ‘Hanky Panky Franky’ will have a really wide audience appeal. ‘Hanky Panky Franky’ let 50s rock n’ roll influences dominate, while making you want to swing someone around the dance floor.

They bring in different instruments on particular tracks to really help them shine, such as the use of horns on ‘Johnny’ and harmonica on ‘All My Baby Brought Back Was the Blues.’ Both songs could work just fine as rock n’ roll songs without those instruments, but adding them to the mix elevates them from good songs to great songs.

Pale Lips will be embarking on their second European tour in February. Unfortunately, they won’t be coming to either of our bases in London or Amsterdam, which we’re honestly pretty sad about, especially after hearing this album, but they will have quite a few in Spain and Germany.

Visit the Facebook tour page for more info on dates and venues.

-Linsey McFadden