Album Reviews

1990s – Cookies

(Rough Trade) UK release date: 14 May 2007

If there’s one suitable description of the decade that was the 1990s, it’s fun. Indeed, compared to the greedy, bloated ’80s or the increasingly dark and depressing ’00s, the ’90s seemed to be one long party – filled with good music, good times and a (now rather misguided) sense of optimism about the future.

Like the decade that they’re named after, 1990s (no definite article here) are all about fun. Whereas some bands seem to be in a competition to prove how tortured, how arty or how much like The Libertines they are, this Scottish trio just want to, to quote Bobby Gillespie on Primal Scream‘s tremendous Riot City Blues, “have a goooood time”.

The mention of the man who was one of the focal points of the glorious debauchery of the last decade is not accidental. If there’s one recent band you could compare 1990s to, it’s the Scream. Indeed, at times, Cookies feels like the younger, fresher cousin of Gillespie, Mani and company.

It’s all here: the Rolling Stones guitar licks, the vocal similarity to Jagger, lyrics seemingly exclusively concerning sex, drugs and rock’n’roll and an overall swagger and confidence that makes you overlook the album’s few flaws.

At their best, there’s few to touch 1990s’ brand of hook-filled rock’n’roll. Almost every song here has a devilishly catchy chorus and, as you’d expect from a band who used to play with Franz Ferdinand and are produced by Bernard Butler, are experts at producing ‘rock music to dance to’.

Recent single See You At The Lights for instance, is just fantastic – one of the singles of the year so far in fact. Handclaps, harmonies and a euphoric cry of ‘hey!’ every so often all merge together to create one of the most enjoyable tracks around. It also includes the line “get out like a blonde gets out of a car” which, for no particular reason, is a brilliant lyric.

You Made Me Like It is another highlight, if only for the frankly bizarre couplet of “Ladytron, Lady Di, how do you make your baby cry?”. You’re Supposed To Be My Friend sends the Stone-A-Thon into overdrive, with riffs courtesy of Keith Richards and a sleazy air that reminds one of Louis XIV – the band that is, not the deposed French monarch.

The only problem with 12 songs of good time rock’n’roll is that it becomes a bit wearying over the course of an album. It no doubt sounds terrific live, and would make great background music for a house party, but the album’s brief running time of 35 minutes seems a fair bit longer than that. The one time they do bring the tempo down is for the lumpen blues of Weed, which by no coincidence is the worst track on here.

Some also may not care for the slightly laddish air that permeates some of the songs here – Cult Status ends with the leering cry of “my cult status keeps me fucking your wife” while Arcade Precinct seems to celebrate leering at 14 year old Catholic schoolgirls (to be fair, it does appear to be a nostalgic lookback at the band’s youth). Yet even this is done with a sense of fun so that only the most prudish could be offended.

Cookies is a fairly typical debut album, in that it sees a band define their style and stick to it. No doubt in time they’ll develop their sound, but in the meantime if you’re after a good soundtrack to a party grab this album, kick off your shoes and get your rocks off.

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