Just a few short weeks prior to the oncoming of the 1990s (the decade not the band), the best television series in history debuted. Yes, The Simpsons landed on December 17, 1989 and then dominated the decade by which a new Glaswegian trio is named. And now, nearly eighteen years later (prompting me to want to blast Alice Cooper’s “I’m Eighteen”), the Simpsons are finally hitting the big screen. I admit it, I love the ’90s. I love Britpop, grunge, lo-fi Elephant 6 stuff, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I especially love The Simpsons. So, what better way to pay tribute to a bunch of great stuff than to name your band after an entire decade? Whatever their reasons, the 1990s have made a big splash in 2007 with Cookies, their debut album on Rough Trade.
Here’s the info you’ll need about 1990s that, inevitably, you’re also bound to find with every other article on this Scottish band. Singer John McKeown used to be in a band called Yummy Fur that spawned another band some of you might have heard of called….ummm…Franz Ferdinand. They played only six shows before they were signed to Rough Trade. And finally, the band itself started as somewhat of a laugh. McKeown and drummer Michael McGaughrin penned silly tunes together, never quite intending for them to become part of an album by a splashy `it’ band. I suppose it could be much like Matt Groening drawing one-eared rabbits for his Life in Hell strip before spoofing his own family for a Fox variety show.
The debut album, Cookies (mmmm….cookies), begins with a blast as “You Made Me Like It” kicks out of the speakers like a cross between punk, glam and angular pop. Singer McKeown sounds like James Murphy singing “North American Scum” while spouting lyrics that are more like the sassy and lackadaisical view on life of Art Brut. “See You at the Lights” is the band’s most recent single, as catchy as any of Franz’s tracks, but with just a hint of the British music from the time period their name references. “Cult Status” continues the sense of humor, tongue in cheek attitude and self-mockery with what will sure to be an oft-repeated lyric, “My cult status keeps me alive / my cult status keeps me fucking your wife.” “Arcade Precinct” keeps up the mashup of melody and street savvy rock as there’s a bit of Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” and a taste of Mike Skinner. The “la-la-la’s,” jangly guitar riffs and overlapping vocals are what make this song, and this band, more than just a collection of humorous one-off numbers.
“Enjoying Myself” is one of those hedonistic first songs that was composed by the original pair of 90s before the band became a viable product. One can somewhat tell as it’s not quite as good as the rest of the material on the album, but there is a silly yet honest Stooges like quality to the track. “You’re Supposed to Be My Friend” is the second single out of three so far from Cookies, in my opinion not quite as good as the other two, but still energetic and enticing. Again, McKeown seems to channel James Murphy and Eddie Argos. Most of the songs on Cookies have some kind of reference to drug use, which, just like the Libertines, could lead to the eventual demise of the band. But until that time, we at least have great Pixies meets Rolling Stones droning tracks like “Weed.”
Whether its shelf-life, drug use or some other kind of cause that results in the eventual disbanding of Glasgow’s 1990s, one thing is for certain, it can’t last forever. Heck, they’ve already dated themselves with their name! Then again, that’s exactly what they said about a little animated show that started just before that same decade. I suppose if they’re smart about their future endeavors, keep the humor fresh and stay true to their sound they might have an eighteen year career as well. Maybe there’s even a movie in it! Most likely not, but at least they have made their first step, a strong, infectious, funny and aggressive first album, Cookies. Mmm…maca-ma-damia nuts!