It’s odd, but the two albums I’ve played most in the past week both remind me a bit of LCD Soundsystem. This might be because I’ve played the LCD album more than anything else this year. But 1990s and Von Sudenfed both have strange affinities with James Murphy, I’m convinced.
I’ll get to Von Sudenfed later in the week, all being well. For now, I’ve just put on “Cookies” by 1990s again. On the surface, it sounds precious little like LCD. It is nothing like a disco record, for a start. Instead, 1990s are a battle-scarred indie-pop band from Glasgow who play a kind of skinny, rubber-spined garage glam. Two-thirds of them used to be in a bunch of faintly malign cuties called The Yummy Fur, who also featured Alex Kapranos before he formed Franz Ferdinand.
Listening to “Cookies”, it’s easy to imagine 1990s hearing Franz’s impeccably calculated pop and thinking, “We’ll have a piece of that.” Much of this debut seems located at the birth of New York punk, perhaps in transit between Max’s and CBGB, maybe with the Dolls and Lou along for the ride. “Arcade Precinct” even struts along like a very louche and sly Scottish cousin of “Walk On The Wild Side”.
Luckily, 1990s have some great tunes, all cranky riffs and wobbly harmonies, crisply produced by Bernard Butler (how much better would the Libertines‘ albums have been if he’d produced them, incidentally?). They are also amusingly self-aware, as you’d hope of men who’ve been flogging around the indie circuit for so long. “Chelsea Hotel didn’t ring my bell, I’d rather be in Pollockshields,” notes singer Jackie McKeown, wisely (Apropos nothing, I heard this guy on the bus the other day talking on his phone about a forthcoming trip to New York. He wasn’t going to make the mistake of staying at the Chelsea again, he said, he wanted to go to that place where Tony Soprano takes his girlfriend instead. Classy).
It’s McKeown’s droll take on being a rock singer of a certain experience, aligned to those vague New York analogies, that remind me of LCD Soundsystem, I guess. He talks about drugs with this weirdly exuberant irony: “I’m going into the forest now, ‘cos my pills should be taking effect soon,” he hams on “Enjoying Myself”. “Why don’t you try taking drugs again, you were never funnier than you were back then,” begins “Weed”, before McKeown confesses to being scared of the telephone – “and I haven’t even got one”.
Best of all, he alludes to the necessity of making this massively entertaining record on “Cult Status”. Again like Murphy, there’s a deadly hipster sense of his own ridiculousness: “Cult status keeps me alive,” he yelps. “Cult status keeps me fucking your wife.” Fun – try it: 1990s Myspace.