Dodgy are not the most glamourous troupe in pop. While the likes of Blur and the Bluetones can shake skinny, still adolescent frames on TOTP with laddish narcissism, Dodgy the stodgy have the hairy legs and beer guts to keep them well down the teenage girl's fantasy list. But what they don't lack is an escapade-loving spirit. Every so often you hear they've been arrested at Speakers' Corner for protests against the Criminal Justice Bill, or are involved in some stunt in the campaign for the legalisation of cannabis. And their epic confidence probably explains why the Dodgy Club still thrives after all these years, and why their 1994 album Homegrown spawned several hits in a row. So, just maybe they don't actually need cute-looking cheekbones.
Most satisfyingly, their new album, Free Peace Sweet, boasts a fresh batch of excellent songs, so much so it's impossible not to trip over one potential top 10 winner after another. Sure, there's plunges into melancholy with the likes of "If You're Thinking of Me", but they are well outnumbered by joyous and surefooted songs steeped in joyous, Sixties melodies, like "Prey for Drinking" and "Trust in Time" - enough to give Britpop extra staying power. Most Anglo-centric bands on their third album show signs of wilting, but Dodgy tunes are looking smart. And that, at the end of the day, is what counts most.
Dodgy, 1 Jul, Newcastle Riverside (0191- 261 4386), 2 Jul, Manchester University (0161-275 2930)