Tom Ewing’s Top 100 Singles Of The 90s

Odd band, Kenickie. At first glance they seemed utterly generic poppy punky frothy indie, but look closer and it’s difficult to think of another group quite like them – one so obviously intelligent but at the same time so committed to pop music, and its ability to spend three minutes of your time making the everyday vital. That’s got to be why every fanzine kid worth the name quietly worshipped the band (that, and the way they so perfectly crystallised the indie girl’s mid-decade conversion from bedsit sensitivity to trash-glamour: in other words, I could fancy Kenickie and my girlfriend could respect them.)

There could be all sorts of reasons why it didn’t work out. The songs were too simple, or the band were too difficult, or – my preferred version – they just didn’t move with the times. Notwithstanding the fact that “I Would Fix You” speaks books to me, its concerns didn’t count for much at a time when guitar bands were supposed to put out great gas giant records which were Ambiguous, yet Important. So it slipped in and out the charts in the mid-20s, and because Kenickie were too pop not to be stars they called the whole thing off.

The version of Kenickie’s failure I like least is the one that says that nobody who listens to music these days much cares about wit or speedy tunes or tender, clever lyrics about love and getting pissed, that they’re all much too sorted and that the fanzine nation were sad fuckers after all. I like it least because a bit of me believes it: more, revels in it. But while “I Would Fix You” is playing you can keep your rock-out bluster or your self-regarding sonic innovations, thanks, because for those minutes indie pop is where it’s at. Lauren Laverne’s delivery, for starters, is superb – wearily conversational and compassionate. The tune is back-bedroom pop epic of the highest carat. The mood….well: on the worst single of the 90s, Michael Stipe reaches out a Messianic hand and condescendingly tells us to “Hold on”. “I Would Fix You” is like that but without the walking on cars and straight-talking which just ends up as talking-down and with better harmonies too. It sets out to pick up a friend who’s down and doesn’t patronise them or itself in the process. And you could dance to it if you’d had enough lager top. Nourishing, in a word.