Kenickie: 100 Club, London

Live pop

I was ready to hate Kenickie because they are punky girls in short skirts. But now I love them because they're punky girls in short skirts with karate tops and that makes all the difference. Whereas the much hyped Fluffy have made a (so-called) career out of yelling "I'm hard, me, and I've got brilliant legs!", Kenickie are a lot smarter than that. They've got tunes and a sense of humour (and brilliant legs). Their lineage is the chirpy, poppy new-wave of Blondie rather than boring, grotty, humourless punk.

"Most pop stars have to get second jobs," advises their lead singer and self-dubbed "northern slapper", 18-year-old Lauren La Laverne. "Carly Simon works in a chicken factory in Scunthorpe, you know. Tragic." This woman is part Debbie Harry, part Vic Reeves.

Kenickie have the kind of innate Rimmel glamour that made the nascent Manic Street Preachers so appealing and that the Spice Girls are now using to full effect. Even the delightful Spices, however, didn't have the chuzpah to christen themselves "Lauren La Laverne", "Marie Du Santiago" (lead guitar), "Emmy-Kate Montrose" (bass) and "Johnny X" (drums).

Kenickie are the first signing to Emidisc which is the brain child of the evil scientists behind Saint Etienne. This is Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs's second attempt at running a label (their first, "Ice Rink", gave the world Shampoo). But Kenickie are warmer and funkier than the perma- alienated Shampoo.

Kenickie's new single, "Millionaire Sweeper", borrows the drum intro to the Ronettes' "Be My Baby". They are more Motown than punk rock, which is a good development. In six months, the band have gone from being lo- fi to crisply produced and note-perfect (they are working with John Cornfield, the man behind Supergrass's hits). The only punky remnant is in the lyric "Now her kisses full at first / ache like blisters waiting to burst", but it's sung so sweetly that the Crystals could cover it.

Lauren pulls her karate top tight across her chest and reprimands the audience for "squinting" at her. From her teacherly / saucy stage presence, to their name (Kenickie is John Travolta's swaggering best mate in Grease), Kenickie are maybe the third band that I wish I was in: they have the stoopid groove of Luscious Jackson and the cool of Elastica. At a time when few bands look as if they're having a brilliant time on stage, Kenickie stand out a mile.

Emma Forrest

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