Make It Hot

Teenage girls are among the most evil creatures on the planet ...

TEENAGE GIRLS ARE AMONG THE most evil creatures on the planet. Mink-like in their viciousness, they’d be out pillaging nests and murdering baby rabbits were it not for the more pressing concerns of matchless disdain, shrivelling contempt and nicking make-up from Miss Selfridge.

Apart from teenage girls, the only people misguided enough to think otherwise are men of a certain age, who’ve forgotten the terror these beings exert and who still pretend that Kenickie – now tipping over into their 20s – are nothing more than sassy adolescent stand-ups in sequins. They keep them categorised as pop! (always with an exclamation mark, don’t you know) because pop! is funny and young. It only does what it does because it wants to! Because it wants to! And there’s no threat in such charming wilfulness, no chance of it rocking anything, let alone the boat.

So if it’s always been easy to be suspicious of Kenickie, ‘Get In’ makes it clear that these suspicions result more from reactions to them than the band’s own actions. This is the sound of a band refusing to play the game set out for them – attractive blonde singer, chirpy attitude, ladders to the top – risking a slide down the snakes instead.

It’s just as well there’s no inherent value in youth – as Kenickie’s elderly relatives might say, they sound old beyond their years. Pulp took 15 years of sex, squalor and success to hit the crisis point of ‘This Is Hardcore’. Kenickie, impressively, have managed a similar rash of existential doubt in just under two years. If last year’s debut, ‘At The Club’, was a giggly blur of fake-fur and spilt vodka, then this is morning after, shivering at dawn with bad skin, a chemical warhead hangover and a clutch of inexplicable bruises.

The social anthropology snapshots still remain – [I]”Night comes and your skin’s all itchy so you eat toast in your best friend’s kitchen”,[/I] sings Lauren Laverne on the ‘Girls And Boys’ throb of ‘Magnetron’ – but the exuberant, lip-glossed evil of ‘Punka’ has been replaced by the maturity shorthand of strings and synths, flamenco flamboyance kicking up alongside deadpan electro, Shangrai-La’s drumbeats booming next to high-kicking pastiche. It’s often audaciously bleak – the desolate ‘5am’ thudding past like a car stereo five floors down; ‘Weeknights’ being Radiohead-mournful – but they aren’t stupid enough to go to the other Svengali-approved extreme and dress up as tragic divas. If it’s messy, it’s because the situation described in ‘I Would Fix You’ is messy; if it’s brave, it’s never foolish.

Get in the car, get into trouble, get in, shut the door and sigh. As this record proves, it all sounds better in the morning.