Comrade Lenin would be spinning in his waxy tomb if he knew that the West hadn’t been conquered by the Red Army – but by a pair of teenage lesbians from Mother Russia. Well, this alone grabbed sensational headlines for TATU, whose raunchy antics have raised the hackles of the tabloid press, alongside disturbing claims that the girls are an “underage sex project”.
Amid all the rumpus, it’s been overlooked that Julia Volkova and Lena Katina are the very first Russians to score a UK number one with All The Things She Said – which has fast become an international smash. Their debut English language album 200 Km/h In The Wrong Lane shows that there’s plenty more musical ammunition from the girls who have made Russia a hot pop property.
TATU’s number one – plus two new tracks – have been knocked into shape with a little homegrown help in the shape of producer Trevor Horn, who courted controversy with homoerotic group Frankie Goes To Hollywood. All The Things She Said, with its irresistible hooks, thumping bass and swirling wall of electronica is a great pop song which never loses momentum.
Big production values which have a definite whiff of the ’80s steam through on Not Gonna Get Us and Show Me Love. Amazingly, on the back of just one song, TATU. has a sound which stands out from the crowd. Their mighty pop songs are tempered with gentler tracks, like the beautiful Stars, tinged by an instrumental swirl of the East and a raw, punchy Russian rap.
Another hit-to-come must be Malchik Gay (Gay Boy), with its quickfire chorus, pounding acoustic guitar – plus a title and lyrical references bound to have the right-wing press up in arms again. Julia and Lena delve into the murky world of cover versions just once, choosing classic Smiths track How Soon Is Now. Diehard fans may shudder in horror to see it messed with, but the words of Morrissey are well-suited to their teen angst.
The two girls’ vocals range from angelic fragility to tortured fury, while their tangible Russian accents add a tantalising touch of the exotic. At rare moments, their voices are a little too raw for comfort. Quantity control freaks might argue this album contains just eight songs – the remainder are Russian language versions and remixes. But you try getting your tongue around Ya Shosla S Uma.
Short it may be, but TATU’s initial English language offerings are fresh-sounding pop songs of such a high pedigree, that this is an album which will be played to death. Ignore all the headlines – this intriguing Russian act has the ability to hit all the right notes with their music alone, and have more than just one mammoth smash to offer.