Rough Trade, 2009

Rising from the ashes of V-Twin and Yummy Fur a few years ago, Glasgow three piece 1990s emerged triumphant, arms aloft with their debut record Cookies. Combining art school sensibilities with a punk swagger they could so easily have been lumped in as also-ran’s in the wake of a certain other Scottish band. Avoiding the comparisons though seemed a breeze, setting themselves apart with lyrics more street smart than the average bear and riffs that crackled rather than popped. But where do we find the boys this time?

Attempting to bypass the sophomore slump, 1990s unfortunately return with essentially the same record as the first.  The wisecracks are in check but this could so easily have been recorded at the same sessions as Cookies. The old adage of if it ain’t broke should normally ring true but we want something different. A record that both surprises us as well as gets us dancing. Should that really be a bad thing?

To explain can I indulge you with a short story? Walking through the supermarket yesterday, having had this record on rotation for the last few days, right past the cereals and on through the cold food aisle, I found myself pretty much alongside the butter. It was about here when I found myself humming along to the usual inoffensive muzak piped in for our commercial enjoyment. You know the sort, where they employ some faceless session musicians to record sanitised versions of hit records in between their tampon advert jingles. Well I found myself humming along to the most conservative pan pipe adaptation of Ash’s ‘Shining Light’ that I’ve heard. Not that there’s many about but you get the drift. It’s here that I thought that any number of the song’s on ‘Kicks’ would equally do well with this sort of treatment. Would beat buying churned milk in silence but it’s not a good sign in my book.

Kicks plies the same mix of Stones riffs, Motown harmonies and pop-punk that featured throughout Cookies although there is a glam bent as witnessed on the album’s first single “The Box” and more vocal diversity with Jackie McKeown (vocals, guitar) making room for the sugar coated tonsils of Michael McGaughrin (drums) and crooning Dino Bardot (bass) on four and two tracks respectively.

Despite this 1990s unfortunately sum themselves up best when they sing “We should keep it like it is?”. Really we’d prefer it if they didn’t. If you liked their first album and are after more of the same then you’ll be pleasantly not surprised. Its catchy pop lite affair but ultimately completely inoffensive. That’s its only real problem.