Pipas - A Cat Escaped

matcd021  /  October 2002
Pipas - A Cat Escaped
cd   $10.00

digital   $8.00

Pipas - A Cat Escaped

matcd021  /  October 2002

Brilliant album from London-based international pop duo Pipas features ten new tracks that will undoubtedly help strengthen the band's genre-melding reputation. Successfully combining harmonic indiepop with dance music, band members Mark Powell (ex-Bella Vista and Moonlings) and Spanish native Lupe Nunez-Fernandez team up with an ingeniously programmed drum machine to create infectious popsongs which manage to be both unpretentiously simple and naturally sophisticated. "A Cat Escaped" is a tantalizing treat of modern sounds and guitars that jangle in all the right places, with short, sweet songs and breezy vocals featuring plenty of ba-ba-ba's. The band has developed an avid international fanbase on the strength of previous releases "A Short Film About Sleeping" on Matinée and "Chunnel Autumnal" on Long Lost Cousin, plus a clutch of celebrated live sets in England, Scotland, Sweden and Spain. This highly anticipated new album will delight Pipas partisans and entice new fans.

  1. What Nobody Does
  2. The Conversation
  3. Barbapapa
  4. Rock and/or Roll
  5. Old Kent Road
  6. The Witches
  7. Cruel and Unusual
  8. A Cat Escaped
  9. Emblematic
  10. Run Run Run


I happen to think Pipas are the brightest stars in the Matinée constellation. The shyness of their last EP has been usurped by a glowing self-confidence. There are tints of Birdie, Stereolab, Strawberry Switchblade in here but there’s a freshness and continentalism to their sound. And it’s a record that doesn’t let up at all - the songs are short and zingy, clocking in at just over twenty minutes for the whole thing. I like that. Every one is charming, as my old drama teacher used to say just before popping outside for quick fag, and doing squishy things to me. ‘Barbapapa’ is St. Eteinne‘s ‘Nothing Can Stop Us’ but from the rough side of town. A Cat Escaped, great title too.   --Wide Open Road
Sweet sequencers throw silver patterns in the sky. Rivulets of guitars cascade downhill over ridges of fallen leaves. Forgotten faces smile from behind the clouds and you trip over your loosened laces and tumble off the cliff. Today you dream of Twinkle with drum machines and tinny keyboards that go “Tschhh tschhh tschhh” in penetrating stabs at your heart. Tomorrow you wish for red guitars that shuffle in hiding behind their fringes, and a voice that rides in on the dust left by Mo Tucker or Julie Margat. Such is the sound of Pipas, who have made one of the sweetest pop albums of the year and which, incidentally, with “Being with you is like killing Bob Dylan – if I had to do it I would die.” contains the year’s finest line too. Get ‘em while they’re hot.   --Careless Talk Costs Lives #6
one of the great pipas records. came out in 2002 I think, just after cf15 came out and just around the time of pipas' shows at our various cf tenth anniversary shows. there is the slick dance pop à la lush on "the conversation." the embittered relationship's-over tune "cruel and unusual" which shows a darker side to the london duo which is so often unfairly characterized as supertwee. for originality it is "barbapapa," which features ms. nunez-fernandez singing over her own voice, singing and rapping circles around herself in a most inventive way. she's lucky like that: like a björk or birkin, there is no one else with this voice. "rock and/or roll" also moves the crowd's big ass. !!!   --Chickfactor
After their excellent debut 10" ("Chunnel Autumnal") and recent "A Short Film About Sleeping" 7" on Matinée, Pipas have finally released their first cd. This record isn't quite as jangly pop as the 10"; there's more emphasis put on the keyboards this time around, but the music is still definitely twee pop, and done well! "The Conversation" reminds me a lot of Red Sleeping Beauty's "Wealth Of Imagination". Lupe does the majority of the singing this time around, though Mark still sings here and there. To be honest, I normally prefer guy vocals for this kind of music, but Lupe's voice is quite nice - I especially like the half-speaking/half-singing in "Barbapapa"! And of course the songs are still short, catchy and sweet - the record doesn't even break the 20 minute mark! This is the best new twee pop record I've heard in a while! MTQ=10/10   --IndiePages
Wow, what a great record! Pipas are a lovely British girlboy pop duo of Mark and Lupe, who are as cute as their music is dreamy. Not a single second of A Cat Escaped is squandered foolishly, and that makes the record even better! Lupe sings with a very sweet, siren-song coo that reminds me of nobody, save for a hint or two of His Name is Alive's Karin Oliver. Not too twee, not too heavy, just sweet enough and mysterious enough to be totally alluring. And the music? It's an odd, unique blend of jingle-jangle indiepop synthy blissout and all out dance-pop affair, with a little bit of candy on top! Ethereal and earthy, folky and funky, expressive yet brief, serious yet silly--A Cat Escaped is full of agreeable and surprisingly successful contradiction. (And when I say brief, I mean it--for all of the muscial ground that Pipas cover, they do so over ten songs in barely twenty minutes!) This brevity causes but one flaw--songs that sound great and are just starting to get off the ground often just abruptly stop, with Pipas just moving on to the next idea. Even though most of these songs reach their natural conclusion, they just seem at times to be too abrupt in their ending. A minor quibble, though, for A Cat Escaped is just the balm for those bored-out bedroom bummer blue afternoons that occasionally happen. You get up, you dance, and you go about your day--what a perfect record for such a purpose!   --Mundane Sounds
Pipas is an international band. While I tried to come up with a review for their album that would seamlessly turn into a critique of the International House of Pancakes (IHOP), it never really gelled. The female half of this duo, Lupe, hails from Spain. Mark, the other half, sounds quite British. Their debut album on Matinée Recordings, A Cat Escaped, offers listeners the chance to indulge in quirky, danceable pop with influences taken from world music. What immediately stands out after just one listen to the album is the lyrics. While Lupe has a beautiful voice, her delivery of lines such as "Being with you is like killing Bob Dylan / If I had to do it I would die" off the song "Cruel and Unusual" is what makes Pipas stand out. Not only are the lyrics themselves a bit twisted (in a good way), they are sung in a breezy, carefree manner. And you can boogie to the beat being held down by the trusty drum-machine. Another song, "Barbapapa," starts with Lupe singing what sounds like "Buh buh buh buh." But she is actually singing "bar ba pa pa." Clever. No, really. THEN, in a very Ladytron-esque talking/singing voice you get "Sometime long ago / I was waking down a corridor...I'm confused and compared with a short attention span." This is my favorite song, followed closely by "The Witches." With funny musings such as, "You forgot so very fast that you owed me twenty quid / I thought it was pretty cute what they did in a year," over a danceable rhythm, every verse is puncuated with what sounds a bit like the synth part from A ha's "Take on Me," but darker. While listening to A Cat Escaped, I began thinking about a foreign exchange student from my high school days. His name was Korn ( I swear), and he was from Thailand. Everyone loved him; He was funny and cute. He would also say the most random things in heavily-accented English. He was quirky to the core. He was also one of the most intelligent people I have ever met, until he started going to raves, but that's another story. Pipas reminds me of Korn. Behind the seemingly shallow observations/lyrics, there seems to be something deeper at work. Pipas is cute and fun, but they deserve more than just a quick listen. With songs that are short but sweet, Pipas' A Cat Escaped will be stuck in your CD player for weeks.   --Delusions of Adequacy
Pipas are a duo from London comprising of Mark Powell and Lupe Nunez Fernandez. They released their debut release, ‘Chunnel Autumnal’ on Long Lost Cousin last year. This was followed up earlier this year with a 7” single on Matinée entitled ‘A Short Film About Sleeping’ which is nestling, as I write, in my singles box. I enjoyed the single to such an extent that the thought of an entire album by Pipas was too much to resist. Imagine being stranded on Desert Island alone. All you have with you are a few rudimentary necessities. You have just enough to keep you alive and perhaps stimulate your over active mind. You scratch around and find what you can to make music on, albeit very simple, to the ears of a cultured world, primitive music, but music none the less. What you can’t find, you assemble from the elementary raw materials around you. You mould, construct and improvise with whatever gnarled and rotting matter is available to use. After many hours and countless aborted efforts your persistence eventually pays off, and the frustration of not being able to translate your ideas from the brain to a musical instrument is alleviated. This is the feeling I take from listening to this album. It sounds like a band striving to extricate the rampant fruits of their imagination onto recording equipment inadequate to accommodate,let alone consume them all. 'A Cat Escaped' is an exciting, stirring piece of work that both benefits and suffers from its very existence. It is a triumph of will against what sounds like very limited resources. The songs here are quaint pop songs recorded with great hooks on guitar, elementary keyboards and a programmed drum machine which has a very NOW feel to the songs. It is this detail that both liberates the songs from bedroom balladeering and sometimes jars the songs, constricting the ebb and flow of what are some damn fine pop moments. Sometimes the juxtaposition of sixties pop aesthetic and a dance orientated drum programme allow the listener to enjoy the songs in a contemporary setting. There are occasions, however, when the drum patterns occasionally sound a bit complicated and clever, often at these times drawing the ear away from some towering signatures. There are ten songs on this album that clocks in at around twenty minutes. Herein lies more irony in that the songs would be perfectly suited to being lengthened to accommodate all the lush melodies. This together with a bigger recording budget would have made this one hell of a fine modern pop album. Yes, the sort that would easily grace the charts. The irony of this is that it is exactly the lo-fi approach and the flaws that lie intrinsically at the heart of this that are the attraction to me. Anyone that doubts the power of pop music, that defies the populist aesthetic, should listen to ‘The Witches’ which positively skips along and grabs the ear with its captivating string hook. This song reminds me in some bizarre way of the Go Betweens and points toward the potent pop machine Pipas may become. On the other hand the album closer ‘Run Run Run’ begins with a lift from the magical George McCrea’s ‘Rock Your Baby’ before the celestial refrain of “do da do do” lifts the song far beyond planet pop’s rarefied atmosphere. As I say a triumph. Stirring, inspired, flawed, a joy and ultimately contradictory, but a triumph none the less. There is a current consensus of opinion in various quarters of the media, that the music industry not only force feed us our normal diet of pap and AOR (thinly veiled, I hasten to add, as indie), but also dictate our tastes and what it feels we should consume. It consequently believes that a new tide of DIY music will emerge from the gaping holes in youth popular culture (now bear with me on this one and the relevance will become clear). Surely the music that we buy and listen to should be challenging, difficult at times and yes I agree, populist to a point, but I strongly disagree that the entire industry should brazenly court and champion the very notion of populist music to the wilful neglect of “more challenging” artists and their work. This release on one unintentional level, I assume, challenges the very framework that most bands, to their detriment, operate within. You see this album confronts the very premise that music should be either superficial or make demands on the listener. It is avuncular and listener friendly yet at the same time petulant and at times downright awkward.   --Pennyblack Magazine
A Cat Escaped, the new CD from London-based international pop duo, Pipas, is 10 tracks of blissful, summery dance-pop. Theirs is the kind of sound that could make a dance-music detractor like myself want to re-explore the genre. Where Pipas succeeds is in its softness -- the beats are all subdued, subtle, and precise. Band members Mark Powell and Lupe Nunez-Fernandez take everything very slowly, Lupe's languid vocals ease over Powell's intricate guitars and perfectly programmed drum machine, making for an excellent release this promising group. Their third release, following the well-received A Short Film About Sleeping (Matinée) and Chunnel Autumnal (Long Lost Cousin), Cat kicks off with the riotous sounds of "What Nobody Does", a gorgeous, stream-of-consciousness song with an unrelentingly catchy chorus, robotic bips and blips and Nunez-Fernandez's elegant dry vocal running throughout with harmonies from the equally mechanical Powell. The song perfectly demonstrates how effective such stilted sound can be when melded with a deep, pulsating -- but never overbearing -- dance beat. It's also alarmingly simple, so relaxed and yet so utterly precise. Nunez-Fernandez leaves herself little room for vocal theatrics, carefully sticking close to the format and speed of each song, as though she is somewhat of a robot herself. The effect is magical, an almost trance-like experience to listen to. It's a quality that continues throughout the collection. This isn't to say that Nunez-Fernandez is incapable of altering her sound -- she manages expertly to shift her vocals from light and breezy to dark and moody with each song. "Barbapapa" has the singer employing a deeper vocal as she sings a mysterious, captivating tale from the perspective of a woman reminiscing about a failed relationship. Her tonal shift to something a little more shady suits the song perfectly, as in the beginning we're left to wonder if she's not some kind of stalker ("So I started on your trail / All the way from A to Z / There were problems of course / But I couldn't understand / Why they weren't mine too") before realizing, maybe she's just confused, lost in fantasy ("I don't want to go by myself / To Mexico / On a rollerblade"). From there on in, Nunez-Fernandez seems to decide with which voice to sing depending on her song's themes with her rhythms rarely swaying from the songs' structured beats. Gloomier tracks "Old Kent Road" and "The Witches" retain her ominous vocal, before lifting to a sufficient lilt on "Run, Run, Run" and "The Conversation". Nunez-Fernandez and Powell are also skilled lyricists, their tracks each featuring smart, meditative -- sometimes ironic and funny -- lyrics adding a refined wisdom to their album. "I don't want you to tell me / What the original means / I don't want you to innocently record it again / You forgot so very fast that you owed me 20 quid", Nunez-Fernandez sings on "The Witches", before spouting, "Oh being with you / Is like killing Bob Dylan / If I had to do it / I would die" on "Cruel and Unusual" and "Run, run, run / The sun's gonna fall / If you don't look now / I think I'm gonna go," on the fascinating "Run, Run, Run". Though less than 20 minutes in length, A Cat Escaped manages in this short time to be one of last year's best and most innovative releases, straying completely from the norm, with two tantalizing talents in Nunez-Fernandez and Powell mixing complicated riffs and tongue-twisting lyrics with simplicity and an exact style purposefully taking their time to eventually blow your mind.   --Pop Matters
Sometimes when I get bored, I resort to the old tried & true time-waster of searching for 45 singles featuring Pam Berry. I'm surprised of the few singles I actually own because it is really hard to find Cat's Miaow and Glo-worm singles, much less The Shapiros or Hydroplane. She's in a new duo now called The Pines, which I was happy to discover a few months ago upon finding a web site for Long Lost Cousin Records. Also on Long Lost Cousin: Pipas. With my curiosity piqued by a couple of mp3s, I decided to do more research which ultimately led to a large-ish purchase from Matinée records. If I had a soundtrack for my sunniest possible disposition, A Cat Escaped would be it. Remember the first time you heard Nothing Can Stop Us Now? Do you remember how it made you feel? For the purposes of this piece, I will assume it left you feeling really good. And do you remember wondering, "who are these guys?" Well, here I am having these kinds of thoughts and emotions over a band so obscure they are totally not the toast of the NME, as Saint Etienne once were (maybe still are, who knows). I think they are British, and it's a guy and a girl (who possesses an unplaceable accent) with a drum machine, simple synths, and an acoustic guitar. Their sound could not be nicer; it could not be more twee!   --The Lazy Archivist
I’ve decided to not turn my TV on anymore. Well not to avoid ALL Television just the news. After all can’t miss Eastenders now that they’ve got Shane Ritchie on the cast to help Eastenders ratings to plunge into the ice age. This is one to watch for pure entertainment value. But the real reason I don’t want to turn my television on anymore is because I can’t bare to listen anymore about the state of the world. Hearing about weapons inspectors, Iraq, Sadam Hussein, terrorists, weapons of mass destruction of thwarted plots to release cyanide into the underground. I can’t listen to George ”dubya” Bush with every syllable that has the misfortune to leave his mouth send the world further down the proverbial creek without a paddle. It all makes me feel totally ashamed to be a human being. Plus it makes the unicorns cry. This morning I received a little ray of light in the form of a care packet full of Matinée related niceness. Now I’m not suggesting that the Pipas are the answer we’ve all be looking for or the key to achieving world peace, oh no. But for exactly 20 minutes 2 seconds of breezy bittersweet indie pop courtesy of the Pipas things seemed to be, well, pretty damn good. The Pipas are a London based international pop duo consisting of Spanish native Lupe Nunez-Fernandez and Mark Powell (ex-Bella Vista and Moonlings) who “sing the songs that make their world go around” short and oh so bittersweet. Forget about Meg & Jim and VV & Hotel, Lupe & Mark are the duo to warm your cockles and pull on your heartstrings. “A Cat Escaped” is so short clocking in at a mere 20 minutes 2 seconds, but a 20 minute 2 seconds of gorgeous la la la’s, ba ba ba ba’s, combining girl-boy harmonies mixed to make indie-pop-folk with a dance beat edge. Lupe and Mark with their acoustic guitars under one arm and their little drum machine under the other fuelled on too much tea (I’d imagine) create infectious pop songs lo-fi yet polished, unpretentiously simple yet oh so elegant. A tea time treat of modern sounds and guitars that jangle in all the right places, with short, sweet songs and breezy vocals featuring plenty of ba-ba-ba's to keep you warm through all these autumnal afternoons.   --Do Something Pretty
Without wanting to sound like nasty piece of work, I wasn’t expecting much of this. I hadn’t really liked much of Pipas’ earlier stuff, far too tricksy thought I! But then isn’t it wonderful when you’re surprised? And Pipas have not only surprised tasty with this perfectly formed little album, but they have charmed tasty too, which is no mean feat... Many of the songs here clock in at around the two minute mark and four dip under. And so Pipas have 10 great pop songs on their hands. ‘What Nobody Does’ opens us up to their gentle world, but it’s not until we hit track three - ‘barbapapa’, that we really nail the Pipas ouevre. Theirs are stunningly simple songs, yet stunningly strong. Mixing sythns with the odd guitar may sound like something Jesus Jones did very badly a very long time ago, but what we have here are ten of the most finely crafted and lovingly put together songs that you’ll ever hear. ‘Rock and/or Roll’ is particularly perfect, with its dreamy vocals and cute electro backdrop to make something that is at once both twee and, somehow, a little bit sexy. I know..I should calm down. Easy! Because with tracks like ‘Old Kent Road’ and ‘A Cat Escaped’ Pipas excel in the art of the maudlin, with careful strummed guitars and hazy vocals. There is a sense that this is a small, personal, very intense album. But don’t let that fool you, because this sort of music everyone should hear. Charmed.   --Tasty