I'm not sure how Random Order has flown under my radar for so long.
It's a local Toronto band that's been around for almost 25 years and has drawn previous comparisons to The Au Pairs, The Slits and The Clash -- and I like all of them. So my interest was piqued when I read about the release of the group's third album, Black Lipstick Kiss, a little earlier this year.
The 11-song, 39-minute LP opens with a bang and a sextet of strong songs before (to my taste at least) tapering off a bit until a big finish.
You can tango to the percussive "The Morning After Kill," provided your footwork is nimble enough when the song speeds up as it goes along. The title track has a video but, if you just listen to it, you can envision Amy Winehouse interpreting it. That's not to say that Random Order singer/guitarist Lynn Phillips doesn't have a good voice. She definitely does, and its blend of sultriness, soul and power fits her repertoire well.
Phillips' main musical foil is John Jowett, whose trombone (and occasional trumpet) are key to the success of "Black Lipstick Kiss," surf rock instrumental "Do It In Quattro" and the ska/pop "Living On A Deadline."
Veteran singer, songwriter, musician, producer and jack of all trades Bob Wiseman arranged "10 Things," which effectively mixes reggae and rock. But it's on "Spoiled" where his arranging expertise is perhaps most appreciated. It begins as a relatively low-key, ska-based song that significantly picks up in intensity near the end and features nice female harmonies in the chorus.
"Excess Or Rise" is more of a rocker, but adds a Latin twist. The ska/reggae mix pops up again, and succeeds, on "Subway Girl." The album ends on a high note with "Pink Cloud," which was originally released as a single in 2007. The track's combination of ska and spy movie theme music may not rival The Selecter's "James Bond" or The Specials' "Sock It to 'Em JB," but it's definitely worth hearing.
Black Lipstick Kiss is available through Random Order's website.