More of a sonic art project than a band, the three international women that make up Chicks on Speed exude a laid-back coolness during every moment of The Un-Releases. Combining electronica with a punk ethic (and a healthy dose of insane strangeness), this compilation of leftover material, bits of interviews and remixes of original Chicks on Speed songs, The Un-Releases is inexplicably brilliant. It may be one of the weirdly intelligent and exhaustingly fun collection of music ever recorded.
With a European flair for glamour with a very do-it-yourself attitude, Chicks on Speed never shy away from being boldly irreverent, from their deadpan cover of Cracker’s “Euro Trash Girl” to the wild “Procrastinator”. Their apparent sense of humor gives their music a fabulous self-awareness. While they obviously don’t take themselves seriously, it’s clear that they are serious about what they’re doing. Chicks on Speed may be having fun, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss them.
Lyrically, Chicks on Speed are joyfully bizarre. On “Song for a Future Generation”, which contains readings of fake personal ads, the chorus focuses around “let’s meet and have a baby now”. “Mind Your Own Business” features a list of strange requests, ranging from “Can I have a taste of your ice cream?” to “Can I interfere in your crisis?” each eventually greeted with the response of “Mind your own business”. The meaning is placed more on the sounds of words than their actual connotations.
Unfortunately, The Un-Releases is hard to listen to because of the fact nothing connects these 33 tracks. Most tracks are about two minutes long, and these sort snippets of sound don’t provide much time for things to develop. While this also has the reverse effect — things don’t go on too long — listeners who try to keep up with the constant changes will get tired easily. Chicks on Speed shows restraint in the length of their songs, but The Un-Releases still feels overdone to sit through all at once.
Chicks on Speed are, though, fascinatingly cool and push the boundaries of music in fun directions. The Un-Releases is a bit too long, but you’ll learn to value every moment.