The Lippies - The Lippies (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Lippies

The Lippies (2016)

Red Scare industries

The Lippies’ debut EP, released at the end of 2014, was a breath of musical fresh air. It was familiar pop-punk and classic punk elements with a fresh voice. When it came time for them to make their first LP for Red Scare, they could have easily just doubled that formula. Instead, they chose to make a record that more closely resembles what their live show has become. Some bands struggle making the leap from EP to LP, but The Lippies have done it quite gracefully.

The Grand Rapids quartet did re-record three songs from the EP for their self-titled full length. “Take a Ride in My Hot Air Balloon” appears here with the truncated title “Hot Air Balloon,” The angry, feminist anthem “Beat it into Me” is similar to the original version. Then there’s “302," the catchiest, most “I Wanna be Sedated”-ish Lippies’ song of all. It will still get stuck in your head for days, but the new version tightens up the spoken word portion toward the end. All three also have improved production, if you’re into that kind of thing.

The Lippies’ frontwoman Tonia Broucek comes from a singer-songwriter background, and the band has incorporated elements of that into their sound. Two of the songs are just Broucek accompanying herself on the ukulele. The tracks sound like they were recorded live in a cavernous room with the mic at the far end. “Basic Boy” and “It Boils” are a nice change of pace and will sound familiar to anyone who has seen The Lippies recently.

The other seven songs are more of the feminist pop-punk and straight up punk that we’ve come to expect from The Lippies. Sometimes it’s sugary sweet and sometimes it’s bitterly caustic, but it’s almost always memorable. Opener “All Fall Down” and closer “Sleeping” are two of the strongest songs the band has done to date. Those two tracks are nice bookends for the whole collection. This batch of songs also marks the first time that the guys have contributed backing vocals, most notably on “Walking on Fences”.

“Fuck the Customer” has been in The Lippies’ live repertoire for a while now. At face value, it seems like a rallying cry for anyone who has ever felt disrespected at a menial job. At second glance, it also supports sex workers in the same spirit as NOFX’s “Lori Meyers.” “We Can’t Go” separates itself from the other songs on the album by featuring a frantic rhythm that seems to conflict with the natural heartbeat. Every song here is above average, with nothing that feels like filler.

On a personal note, I’m thrilled with the light that The Lippies have been shining on the Grand Rapids scene. They’ve got a real shot at making waves on a national level, and they’re elevating a lot of other bands in their wake. The Lippies have a good chance of being to 2016 what War On Women were to 2015. The bands cover a lot of the same subject matter and The Lippies are much more listenable. On another personal note, I’m probably not in this band’s core demographic. As an old white guy, I’m more likely to be the target of their wrath. Even if The Lippies are scolding me, I’m enjoying every minute of it. Highly recommended.