1990s: Cookies

Propelled by choppy guitars and a whole lot of charm, Cookies will make you get up and get your ass on the dance floor, provided no one slaps it first.



Label: World's Fair
US Release Date: 2007-07-31
UK Release Date: 2007-04-07

Ever since the Beatles first stepped off that Pan Am flight back in 1964, cheeky lads have been a force to reckon with in pop music. From the Kinks to the Troggs, right up to Franz Ferdinand and Maxïmo Park, fun lovin’ and hard drinkin’ Brits have been able to get away with a lot, moptops or no. For a non-music related example, take a look at the storied history of Hugh Grant if you doubt the redemptive power of big eyes and a “what, me worry?” shrug. 1990s is the newest addition to the cheeky monkey galaxy -- propelled by choppy guitars and a whole lot of charm, Cookies will make you get up and get your ass onto the dance floor, so long as no one slaps it first.

1990s (don’t make the rookie mistake of adding a “the” or apostrophe) are the sum total of a couple of Yummy Fur guys and, to listen to the album, a fair helping of uppers and vodka. Yummy Fur was a Glasgow pop band that is most famous now for once counting a young Alex Kapranos as member of its ranks. But the 1990s sound harkens back to a simpler time, a bass-guitar-drums outfit that sounds sort of like old Rolling Stones, sort of like old Pulp, and nothing like you’ve heard lately. Cookies is their first album, but it sounds like these guys have been playing in crowded bars for gyrating, drunken art students for years. And that’s a very good thing.

“You Made Me Like It” opens the album (and is Cookies' first single). I’ve listened to it quite a few times, and the words are surprisingly intelligible, but I’m still not quite clear on exactly what “it” lead singer Jackie McKeown refers to. That's all right, though, because with irreverent, playful lyrics like, “Ladytron, Lady Di / How’d you make your baby cry?”, you don’t need everything to make sense. The song has an Elvis Costello, “Pump It Up” feeling to it, with a persistent drum beat behind and a swaggering lead vocal in front. The breathy chorus of repeated “ahs” would sound completely at home on an Architecture in Helsinki album (as would the lyrical references to Mozambique).

This constant updating of old musical tricks with contemporary pops and fizzes is a hallmark of 1990s style. The music itself is updated 1960s pop: the boys cite the Rolling Stones as a major influence, and Cookies has much of the grungy, ramshackle magic of Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed. In “Cult Status”, McKeown sings the title phrase in the same drawn-out drawl Mick used for “Brown Sugar”. This is by no means the Jackie McKeown Show, however: drummer Michael McGaughrin shares vocal duties on some of the tracks, and he and bass player Jamie McMorrow do an excellent job of tightening up grooves and keeping the action under control. Album standout “See You at the Lights” is a good song made great by a fantastically yellable chorus and the line “Get out to a bar / Get out like a blonde gets out of a car”. And so we return to the cheeky lad portion of the review.

There are a lot of clever, cutting lines in this album, lots of references to taking many drugs and then taking even more, and in the hands of a less assured band these things would come off sounding callow and glib. Here, however, McKeown and company manage to sound utterly harmless and friendly -- the smart alecks with hearts of gold. Case in point, the following lines off of “Enjoying Myself”:

Some people ask if I’m enjoying myself

And I say

I haven’t decided yet

I’m just enjoying myself

And maybe you can enjoy me too

There’s an art to singing lines like those and not coming across as a total asshole, and 1990s have mastered it. In their song “Cult Status”, 1990s sing about how their cult status keeps them alive, the singer going as far as to claim that his bankable amount of indie cred “keeps me fucking your wife”. Soon, it won't be only the legions of Glaswegian husbands that fear imminent cuckolding. Albums like this one are too enjoyable to be kept secret for very long.


So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.