"People keep asking us, are you depressed, have things been terrible for you? They want us to say, oh the past year's been awful, I'm going to be teetotal, we're going back to our roots, and we hate the music industry, but stories about how bad it's been have been greatly exaggerated... The blue touch paper, it seems, has been relit."

As far as guitarist Marie de Santiago is concerned, Kenickie, the sassiest bunch of punk poppers ever to totter out of Sunderland in high heels and fake furs, are back, and armed with a new album with which they hope to wreak fresh havoc in the charts.

But after a run of exuberant singles such as "In Your Car" and "Punka", it was unsurprising that the rumour mill was buzzing, given that they went very quiet for months. High-jinks in London had inevitably taken their toll; the teenage Kenickie gang stopped house sharing and went their separate ways, for sanity's sake. "You know what it's like when you're working and living with other people - you're with them 20 hours a day, but you need at least four hours a day by yourself, even if only when you're asleep," Marie laughs.

A post-hangover reflectiveness pervades the new single, "I Would Fix You", displaying the soft, comforting lyrics a pal might coo to another friend to cheer the person up. But Marie thinks the style isn't new sadness, just a continuation of a strain of wistfulness which infused in the less buoyant songs on their last album, At The Club. And, as Marie effortlessly brings laughter into the conversation, it is hard to argue with her.

There seems to be no end to things that have brought a happy twinkle into her eye in recent times. The band are currently rehearsing with two new members ("Lovely, lovely people"), and current rehearsals are smooth. "I've been playing guitar for a few years now, so it should get easier. I'm not exactly Joe Satriani and wouldn't want to be, but things are going surprisingly well." She gushes about meeting Huw and Lenny of EastEnders before the band got into trouble for light-fingered behaviour on the soap set and were given their marching orders. But best of all was doing the Eurotrash Eurovision Song Contest edition, covering the Brotherhood Of Man creaker, "Save All Your Kisses For Me". "That Antoine [de Caunes] is gorgeous!" Marie swoons.

And Kenickie dream for a similar kind of response to their new album. "I just want people to go (makes gasping noise) 'ooh, ooh!' in disbelief," she says.

Expect Kenickie to be terrorising a summer festival near you.

Kenickie, Electric Ballroom, NW1 (0171-485 9006) 3 June