Hip Check!

Dec 19, 2001 at 12:00 am

With two back pockets full of get-down-yeah, some slow-burn ESG-style funk bass, trembling organ, wailing harmonica and hand claps to spare, The Come Ons get right into it with Hip Check!, the latest rhythm-heavy hip-shaker from Deanne, Jim, Patrick and friends.

It has all the shimmy of the group’s past work, but with a cleaner, simpler delivery, all the way down to the classy packaging. The cover for the band’s self-titled full-length debut featured a spotlighted metallic star nestled in glistening tinsel. And the guts, rightfully so, spilled over with crowded garage-surf-Motown jams. It was fun for sure, but Hip Check! makes more of an attempt at grasping the almighty “song.”

And the attempt rings true, especially in “Strangelove,” a slow and sweet, almost uncharacteristically delicate Sunday-afternoon love poem. Deanne croons, “You’re a sentimental soldier / A victim of romance / Pictures on your wall / Things you must remember / What could be sweeter / Tell me / It’s a strange love / But I’m no stranger.” But then a quick “let’s go!” and high-gear rock drums kick the vibe back into party mode with the title track. A fading siren, courtesy of the Detroit Police Department, sneaks its way onto the end of the album closer, “Dollar in my Pocket,” a bittersweet setting-marker and conclusion to a lo-fi olde-tyme country-bluesy romantic burner.

The Hip Check! artwork — block letters, clean lines, a striking four-color design scheme and a sharp photo of a dancing woman’s back — is quite telling of what you’ll find inside: semi-indirect melodies feeding off a celebratory dance groove, which all boils down to a kind of sexy that could only come naturally.

Melissa Giannini is the Metro Times staff music writer. E-mail her at [email protected].