Time let the air out of electroclash’s inflatable babes, but Chicks on Speed are nothing if not real dolls—the world’s finest! I mean, if you’re in the market for this sort of thing, why not spend the extra bucks on a lady (or three, ooh la la) who can sex up consumer critique, out-rap Tina Weymouth, and make H&M look couture with a touch of her lifelike hand? Sold? That’ll be 99 Cents—the Chicks’ much slicker third album that bumble-boogies like an extreme-hungover Chad Hugo, all raggedy guitar flourishes and weird drum warble waves. Among the requisite pomo fembotica (“Culture Vulture” and “Sell Out”—like, who needs an Adbusters crib sheet?), there’s room for a few fantastic, and not even self-effacing, nearly rock songs.
“Shooting From the Hip” glitches Stereolab burbles while name checking Jeff Koons (gallery sub-lebrities sacking art stars, on par), then offending Tim Gane with “We Don’t Play Guitars,” which pits Peaches as ax grinder against COS’s distorted dance-tech aesthetic. Their cover of the Tom Tom Club’s second-most-famous song “Wordy Rappinghood” bounces where the Club original labored—the Chicks all take turns tossing lines of jet-set glamour-girl coo. An apt track too, as getting reflexive with words of nuance and fun is how the Chicks survived. They imagined their future—not in plastics.