Thursday, 16 April 2009

Kenickie: At the Club


Before Lauren Laverne made it on TV and radio she was part of a band that can only be described as bubblegum punk. Named after the character in grease Kenickie was one of my late teens essential play loud albums.

The music is often bombastic and wild, centring around club culture and wild nights. Hidden amongst the tracklist are some more quiet reflective treats that put Kenickie on my “Most underestimated and undervalued bands of the 90s” list (I just started it)

The album kicks of with the raucous “In your Car” its fast, shouty and ideal single fodder. Which is good because that's what happened.Wordle: kenickie: at the club

We then segues into a slightly more mellow “People we Want” swinging from surprisingly deep lyrics for a song that seems to be essentially about whether to go home or not!

“We are spies” is an odd little number, with the tone set by the previous number I place it again firmly in the realm of clubland. Its one of the novel excuses that a beleaguered woman will come out with to deter a would be fan. Its fun and lyrical and once the song kicks into the end “chorus” is fantastic in its structure. Its a song with a money shot.

Then we enter “When I was Made” which is a more traditional Verse / chorus mix. Its an upbeat track that is almost emo in its themes. Such sparkly music really shouldn’t deal in such dark themes. Its works so well.

Then we struggle through “Brother John” this is one of those OK tracks you always encounter on an album, nice but not special. It does have a very strong ending which seems to be something that Kenickie excelled in, sadly I tend to spend the whole song waiting for it.

Millionaire Sweeper was the second single release of this album for Kenickie. An odd choice but  a cracking album track that works far better in context then it ever does as a single. Its one of the more "songy” songs on the album being as close to chart simplicity as Kenickie ever seem to on the album. The song is lacking a strong hook and sort of bumbles through from start to finish. Enjoyable in a cereals sort of way rather then a steak and chips.

Then my favourite song on the entire album “Robot Song”. Very simple in format but an escalating build of angst, misery and general worry. The concept of emotional detachment in this context is brilliant. I could listen to this over and over again and still feel that, whatever my situation in life, I still understand it. Don't we all wish that sometimes we could stop being sad because “We choose not to be”. A brilliant track.

We have no rest from then on. The next song should have made a single, it is lively and exciting and is just right to offset the sadness of “Robot Song” “Classy” is just that, until you listen to the lyrics and it describes many drunken nights in town. The ending sequence with the overlaying of tracks is so simple but oh so effective. Another brilliant track.

“Punka” was Kenickies first single off this album and works well as this. Its enjoyably vapid and encapsulates hero worship in a genre that really does not succeed in the traditional realms of pop music. With an excellent guitar solo making it slightly more standout it is fun but simple.

“Nightlife” is the final single release from the album and is by far the best. Again dealing with the clubbing scene it is deceptively simple in its construction. As a view of clubbing culture is is surprisingly insightful with the emphasis on disposable pleasure. An excellent single.

“P.V.C.” is almost a comedy single. Its my favourite plastic as well!

We then go into club mode again with “Come out 2nite” which, if you ignore the text-speak is another excellent track and one worthy of more then relegation to an album. Sadly its rather short is really is in need of an extension.

With “I never complain” we are starting to tail off for a rather flaccid ending to the album. Its rather unmemorable and really seems a filler.

As an album closer “Acetone” does work, it is mellow and thoughtful closing this wild ride of an album with a nice wind down complete with puddles of vomit and a chilly walk home. Just like a real night out. Unfortunately it does highlight something hidden by the shouty nature of the other tracks. Lauren is unfortunately, not a great singer.

In the words of QVC WAIT BUT THERES MORE. At the club has the obligatory hidden track after “Acetone”. I believe called “At the Milk Bar” its a jokey acoustic track that's real merits is in the amount of sheer fun that can be heard by the band in recording it. It is a little gem of the type that Easter eggs were invented for.

Overall I adore “At the Club” it is a fantastic little album and well worth a listen.

Available for free from Spotify HERE. (If you don't have an account I have some invites to give.)

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