On May 27th 2014 Babes, yes that is their actual name, released their debut 2014 self-titled EP via Harvest Records. The same record company, in fact, who signed on Morrissey. Babes are a retro pop quintet from, you guessed it, Los Angeles in California. The five piece performed at The Satellite in LA on May 28th to promote their new release. Siblings Zach Leigh, Aaron Leigh and Sarah Rayne Leigh consider fellow bandmates Jeff Baird and Bryan Harris as “blood brothers”. The band explore the highs and lows of primal urges along with universal human emotions. Their assessment is simple. The ideology is as follows; the state of being “horny” and “sad” has, historically, led to the creation of the greatest works of art.
EP opener, “Isn’t It Love“, focuses on the recurring theme of romanticism and asks the question “Isn’t what we have, isn’t it love?”. It is a truly beautiful track to listen to which includes an air of dreaminess and wonder. Sarah Rayne begins the track with an impressive vocal ability “Isn’t it love that keeps your feet on the ground and gravity’s just a word/People say to sound smart, isn’t it love?”. Her voice is ultimately soft and appealing to listen to overall. A strummed guitar set accompanies the dreamy singing style. Immediately we are transported to a place of peaceful tranquility. With “There’s only one question I wonder about day and night” a funky drawn out guitar piece is introduced alongside light keyboard notes adding to ambience. Simplistic and sweet, three key elements make up this song. Guitar and keyboard compliment vocals. The question, “Isn’t what we have, isn’t it love?”, is reinforced towards the end. Repeated three times, the question is the last we hear of Rayne as vocals diminish. Thirty nine seconds of instrumentals bring the song to a gradual close.
“ATMO”, an acronym for “Always Turning Me On”, is a sexually charged song about still remaining physically attracted to an ex. It won’t take long until “Isn’t It Love” and “ATMO” are stuck inside your head for days on end, playing on repeat, over and over. Audio alone is addictive but what is even more intriguing are the music videos accompanying these two songs. The quirky and entertaining video for “Isn’t It Love” was directed by Ben Berman and portrays Sarah Rayne and features actor John Ennis (Mr. Show) dressed up in cowboy outfits. Both performers mime the words to “Isn’t It Love” as Rayne swishes a whip back and forth. If you don’t know what to make of this video then you’re in for a surprise with “ATMO”. The video features Russian Red as a phone sex operator who really gets into her job. While nothing sexually explicit is shown, per say, there are a number of scenes implying masturbation. An IRL phone number is included in the video for “ATMO”. (470) Babes-77 is the actual hotline number to make contact with “Babes”. It is important to note that the band do not take themselves too seriously. All in all, they are quite capable of having fun.
“You & Me” is the first song we hear Aaron Leigh featured in. “You And Me” is a duet between Leigh and his sister, Sarah Rayne. Start/stop guitar opens the song combined with what sounds like a bell chime. A set of deeper vocals are released into the airwaves. One could compare them to the likes of The Moody Blues bar the accent. There are similarities. Lyrics like “Cause there’s something between us” and “I wasn’t searching for love till I saw you/ Around and I felt you were just who I wanted to be with” suggest this is very much a love song. Midway through the song both vocalists fine tune their voices to become higher pitched. “You & Me” is heartfelt and soulful. Vocals begin immediately in “Hey My Man” with those exact lyrics. This is a song which solely includes Aaron Leigh. There is a similar feel to “Hey My Man” and “You & Me”. Keyboard and what sounds like a tambourine are the key components here. “Hey My Man” touches on sadness but mainly centres around overcoming the emotion with an uplifting outlook. Looking forward to tomorrow and leaving what lies behind you “Every day’s a new chance to get/ Every day’s a new chance to get by”.
“A great performance here that plays up the inherent humour without tipping over too far into ridiculousness”- Stereogum on “ATMO”