/island; 1995/

I have to pay homage to my first true encounter with the music business. It was a confused time now referred as The Brit-Pop era. It didn’t last long but it brought so many awful bands to the fore that many a second-hand record store still keeps muddy traces of its flood. This wave all the same left a few great albums by bands such as Pulp, Lush, The Stone Roses, The Boo Radleys, Ride…. which didn’t wait for their break to record great songs. I still listen to some Brit-pop bands once in a while: Sleeper had a couple of refreshing numbers despite their singer’s stupidity, Bawl, Drugstore, Radiohead, Supergrass…Oasis sure, Elastica when you get past their stealing Wire, James, Echobelly, The Wannadies, The Cranberries, Ash and Linoleum during my most indulgent hours.

Anyway, get your ass in gear to remember bands that crossed briefly your shelves or go to your basement and fetch your suitcase in which you store these albums you didn’t manage to sell to local second-hand record stores or old mix-tapes a girl wearing a miniskirt and slides offered you. You should there find goodies by Cast, Carrie, The Longpigs, Me Me & Me, Travis, Symposium, Suede, The Charlatans, Salad, Inspiral Carpets, Comet Gain, Powder, That Dog, Catatonia, Garbage, The Manic Street Preachers, The Warm Jets, The Verve, Strangelove, Underworld, Saint-Etienne, Morrissey, Divine Comedy and of course Menswear.

They were really hip in 1995. They wrote their names like that: Meanswe@r. Wasn’t that a micro-soft parade ??

One night when I was still hanging out with rated-r the Mind I heard ‘Daydreamer’. It threw down a terrific bubble pop groove and impressed me. I realize now that I was my personal foul when I mocked people who listened to Cast and at the same time bought Nuisance by Meanswear. I thought the album was as great as the single and I couldn’t listen to it because I bought it second-hand at Potatoe Head Blues.

You often realize after a while that titles reveal some sort of truth, be they meaningful or ridiculous at the moment of the release, considering the events of the time…Indeed, with retrospect Nuisance is a perfect title for this horrid album. It just clutters. Except for ‘Daydreamer’ the album is truly awful, pushing further away the boundaries of superficial drama and bubble-pop dullness. Three quarters of the tracks are worse than Duran Duran. Menswear sometimes tries to be a Beatles’ epigone but never succeed (‘being brave’, ‘sleeping in’), sometimes badly imitates Oasis (‘little miss pinpoint eyes’). They sound like worn-out Elastica. Menswear is of course lyrically challenging. ‘Stardust’ is a daring mockery of a superficial rock star who ‘got drunk and crashed his car, sold his soul and his mother for rock’n’roll and fame, loves himself and loves no other…’ Oh and I’ve almost forgotten, ‘his girlfriend looks like Bridgette Bardot’. Waooh, such a bold exposure on the part of business products. In the incredibly touching love song ‘Piece of Me’, ‘sex is a secondary thing’ but somehow you get the impression that the poor narrator has got a fiend in his crotch and that he loves the girl because she is an occasional A & O specialist.

I eventually learnt that Menswear was in fact the result of Island researches for the perfect guys to make the most attractive Brit Pop band to score hits and monopolize the charts’ first step. A sort of Brit-pop boys-band if you will. Do we have to take into account that their singer tried to look like Jarvis Cocker. It almost worked if you consider that ‘Daydreamer’ definitely was a radio-friendly hit spreading its hooks on every Brit-pop dance floor. It didn’t make it to Trainspotting soundtrack though. Sorry. I’m being mean. Erase and Rewind. It didn’t make it to the top. They might have said as Fred Durst recently that they were the best band in the world but don’t take it for granted.

Fortunately, I don’t think there will ever be a Menswear come-back. This band is not immortal. Neither are Shameful memories. We should coco while listening to ‘Fucking in the bushes’ my friends. You’ll manage somehow.

-SEB ‘being brave’ WOOd.

/oct 15th 2003/