Dishing spice

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As media-savvy pop culture junkies, Chicks on Speed know exactly how to bait the press. Having learned a trick or two from the Spice Girls’ watered-down feminist sloganeering and prepackaged niche personalities, this transcontinental trio of art school dropouts has merged readymade for fame: Handmade paper dresses! Face paint! Artsy-fartsy manifestos!

Strategically, their hyperfascination with image all but renders the music irrelevant. A cloying mix ’n’ match of Eurodisco and retro-techno, CoS’s sound is pop art à la Top-40 or a Revlon jingle sold as the avant-garde.

Consider “Euro Trash Girl” and the RuPaul-esque “Glamour Girl,” which are as coyly self-referential as they are critiques of consumer culture. This so-called self-promotion-as-art attempts to blur distinctions between commodity and art, but by using an age-old cliché for hipster cachet, CoS aren’t nearly as smart as they’d like to believe.

Which is unfortunate, really. There’s no denying that these Munich-based musicians know how to make listeners shimmy and shake, but even their most straightforward efforts — like their cover of “Give Me Back My Man” (which remakes the B-52s as Gary Numan) — are so self-consciously clever that they’re difficult to truly enjoy.

Jimmy Draper writes about music for Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

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