Album Reviews

Ping Pong Bitches – Alphadog

(Umami) UK release date: 2 October 2006


One of the enduring memories of my school days was that, however early you arrived in the morning, there was always a group of two or three girls at the back of the form room, singing the latest chart hits and practicing ‘the moves’.

Making sure you knew ‘the moves’ to each song was of the utmost importance, and the girls would regularly review each others performances to make sure that the collective result was as accurate a rendition as possible. Singing in tune was of secondary importance to ‘the moves’, followed by the actual choice of music which was (at least to all us nerdy muso boys) of no importance whatsoever – it just had to have ‘moves’.

None of us muso boys would ever try and mock this at all, because it was so obvious that these girls were enjoying their music much more than we were, drowning in the ever-increasing probability that our own guitar-strewn essays of angst might not actually make us the rock stars of the future. Nor did it harm anyone, as they didn’t go on to form bands – or so I thought. For if they had, they might have sounded a lot like the Ping Pong Bitches.

So is Alphadog, the Bitches’ second brew, really that terrible? Or is it one of those seemingly god-awful records that starts to grow on you just when you least expect it? Have these former Malcolm McLaren proteg�s produced an al bum, seemingly just bad, that’s actually a post-punk shotgun blast to our modern musical sensibilities and the start of a movement inspiring decades of future artists? Without my crystal ball handy, first impressions will have to do – by which, though far from terrible, Alphadog is mostly just plain bad.

However the Bitches clearly embrace their badness, to the point that this might actually stand a chance at that risky ‘so bad it’s genius’ category – the one The Transplants keep aiming for but failing to score. Take the (obviously) guitar laden Rock Action with its shouted chorus of “gimme, gimme, gimme – your rock action, harder harder harder, your rock action” or “I can’t get no satisfaction, all I want is your rock action”.

This track alone is guaranteed to annoy even the most musically progressive of parents – so for those 13 year olds suffering the indignity of their dad actually liking all their music, Alphadog could be a godsend. If it hasn’t got any ‘moves’ yet, it would be pretty easy to make some up too. And if that annoys your muso dad, try Roc Ya Body – it’ll have him in absolute agony.

There’s also some alarmingly infectious synth riffs poking through some of these songs. The Beast (“feel the beast, the beast in me, come on baby set me free”) owes a debt to Liam Howlett‘s Experience days – in fact the whole album does – and has a great pairing of distorted power stabs and a bonkers arpeggiator blast that opens up proceedings. None of this stops it from being really silly, but it does make it pretty groovy too. Chains is pretty good too, sounding a lot like Renegade Soundwave before they went dub – in fact it’s easy to imagine the Bitches’ covering Probably a Robbery or Biting My Nails, and making a pretty good fist of it.

Once the novelty value’s worn off, most of Alphadog goes from being intermittently annoying or catchy to just plain annoying. Listening to Kinky Boots and Roc Ya Body more than a couple of times was among the deeper depths of suffering I’ve plumbed for musicOMH.com. There is definitely a niche audience for this album, and perhaps a niche mood, but approach with extreme caution – the Ping Pong Bitches could have a negative effect on your sanity.


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