Mis-Teeq : Lickin’ On Both Sides

Mis-Teeq : Lickin' On Both Sides

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An everyday tale of dumper R&B girl band meet garage remixer, become successful and wear high heels and hairpieces a lot.

Mis-Teeq: it’s an everyday tale of dumper R&B girl band meet garage remixer, become successful, swiftly shed member, dump management, get sued by management and wear high heels and hairpieces a lot. The career trajectory of Su-Elise Nash, Sabrina Washington and Alesha Dixon has been, if not smooth, then certainly typical of every other girl band on either side of the Atlantic. And their record company seems to know this – the album is being promoted with the slogan “It’s A UK Thing!”, the girls’ connection to the UK garage scene being their Unique Selling Point.

Their first single, ‘Why?’ flopped in its original R&B incarnation before UK Garage godfather Matt ‘Jam’ Lamont gave it a nimble re-rub which scurried into the top ten last January. The full-on second single ‘All I Want’ got heavily promoted in Ayia Napa and was a Number Two summer smash.

Perhaps as an attempt to show that they are indeed capable of ‘Lickin’ On Both Sides’, Mis-Teeq

have now released another R&B tune, ‘One Night Stand’, as their third single. This is a mistake. As a garage girl group, Mis-Teeq

are at the top of a field of about four. As an R&B girl group, they are probably around halfway down a field of several million. Happily, their debut album demonstrates that their attachment to the UK garage scene is more than skin deep – indeed, Alesha is now going out with Harvey from So Solid Crew. And Harvey and his crewmates Asher D and Synth turn up to rap on and produce ‘They’ll Never Know’, a tough and characteristic slice of pure pirate material.

At the lighter end of the garage spectrum is the frisky, Ed Case-produced ‘That Type Of Girl’ and the first-time-sex tune ‘You’re Gonna Stay’. These tracks, together with the first two singles, sum up a time, place and environment that is urban Britain, 2001.

It’s when Mis-Teeq

start to ape their American peers that their deficiencies become quickly apparent – occasionally thin voices, uninventive MCing and derivative lyrics. Endless scrub-bashing (as on ‘Stamp Reject’) sounds churlish in a British context – whatever the deficiencies of UK men, they don’t tend to spend their records slagging off women like their US counterparts and are thus probably deserving of a breather. And what’s this Cristal that Mis-Teeq

insist on sippin’ on in ‘One Night Stand’? NME bets they prefer a white wine spritzer. In short, Mis-Teeq

are only special when they stick – or perhaps lick – to what they know.

Alex Needham