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Kenickie, At The Club

Kenickie: At The Club Emidisc ADISCCD 02
Blonde and brassy and up for as much fun as it's possible to have in PVC - which, I would imagine, is quite a lot - Kenickie tear through their debut album with the kind of spirit that shames the week's other releases. Smells, in fact, like teen spirit, but with all self-pity swept aside by sheer force of personality. The closest that Lauren Laverne and Marie Du Santiago, the band's songwriter/guitarists, get to grunge complaint is the cheerful antipathy of "Spies", and even then there is zero tolerance for whingers - "You should stay out of my way," advises Laverne. "I don't have time to watch you cry."

Kenickie's sound is rooted in the garage-band thrash style celebrated in the nostalgic "Punka", but already they've superseded such beginnings, blossoming into a high-energy amalgam of all the great girl groups. The single "In Your Car" opens proceedings as a street-smart, punkish version of The Shangri-Las, with gossipy inquisitions interjected between lines like a dubious Greek chorus. "This is heaven, didn't you know?" sings Laverne; "D'ya reckon?" respond her bandmates, unimpressed. Throughout the album, Kenickie combine the bounce of The Go-Gos and the laconic harmonies of Bananarama with the energy of Babes In Toyland, but somehow manage - unlike all three - to remain engaging at all times.

At their best, they summon up the simple pop drive of The B-52s, but with the self-conscious American zaniness replaced by a canny Wearside suss. The result, in songs such as "Nightlife", "Classy" and "Come Out 2Nite" is a teen manifesto somewhat akin to a tougher, neon-lit version of Supergrass's "Alright": "We are now for your inspiration/ Soundtrack to the times/ We are young for your desecration/ Destroy what you find". There are no grand illusions to Kenickie's worldview, though - throughout the album runs a strong thread of level-headed cynicism that enables them to cast a sensible, if jaundiced, eye over the minefields of youthful relationships, teen pregnancy and peer pressure. Self-determination at its noisiest - it was what punk was all about, surely.