Double A-sides feel like a very nineties thing, don’t they? I remember the first double A-side I ever owned was Steps’ ‘Heartbeat/Tragedy’ on cassette tape. I never really cared for ‘Heartbeat’ much, but ‘Tragedy’ awakened something in my seven year old self that had, until then, been lying dormant. Oddly, almost twenty years later, I find that while my affection for ‘Tragedy’ has waned, I consider ‘Heartbeat’ to be one of the group’s best tracks (their third best after ‘One For Sorrow’ and ‘Deeper Shade Of Blue’ since you asked). But then, that was always sort of the point of double A-sides. One track would appeal to a certain demographic while the other would strike a chord with a different one. Both target markets would then come together to buy the cassette en masse and send both tracks rocketing to number one. Simple pop science.
Nowadays, thanks to Spotify and digital downloads, double A-sides are less of a thing. Still, that hasn’t stopped Welsh punk trio Adwaith going ahead and releasing one anyway, debuting the excellent mini bundle of ‘Lipstick Coch’ and ‘Femme’.
‘Lipstick Coch’ – that’s ‘Red Lipstick’ in English – is a grungy, jangly bit of rough-around-the-edges indie pop. Its flirtatious guitar riff snakes around a clattering accompaniment of drums and angelic, dreamy vocals, the track drawing you into its scuzzy, enthralling – and at times almost psychedelic – soundscape. Sung entirely in Welsh, the meaning of the track is lost on my English ears, but this added mystique only makes ‘Lipstick Coch’ a more alluring listen.
Second single ‘Femme’ is more decipherable – what with it being sung in English and all. And staying true to the classic double A-side formula, it offers something rather different to its counterpart. While ‘Lipstick Coch’ revels in its fuzzy moodiness, ‘Femme’ is a more upbeat affair. A sarcastic jab at the patriarchy, it sees the band in a sardonic mood, decrying the inequality of our gender-based society over a jovial guitar melody. “Oh I love being a woman,” the track begins, “sitting back and being a second class citizen”. From here the track goes on to highlight the many double-standards women deal with on a day to day basis, maintaining its shit-eating, faux cheery tone throughout. The track is never directly confrontational, but make no mistake – behind the candy coating is an unmistakable anger.
Though a double A-side release may feel reminiscent of the twentieth century, there’s no denying that Adwaith’s music definitely belongs in the here and now.