They were indie’s ultimate pin-ups – NME darlings who wrote great pop-punk songs, enjoyed the druggy delights of London nightlife, shagged groupies senseless and then imploded in dramatic style. No, not The Libertines, you fools, Menswear. And they really couldn’t have picked a more appropriate name for their debut album than Nuisance.
Yep, back in the mid ’90s, when Pete Doherty was still a record company marketing man’s (crack)pipe dream, these youthful Britpop socialites had it all – good looks, massive hype and, unlike The Libertines, fantastic tunes. Menswear appeared on Top of The Pops performing I’ll Manage Somehow before they had even released a single and signed a record contract after only five gigs.
Their debut album, 1995’s Nuisance serves as a great reminder of the heady days when freaky Japanese girls would visit Camden pub The Good Mixer in the hope of getting a glimpse of floppy-haired Menswear frontman Johnny Dean and his razor-sharp cheekbones. From the guitar and Hammond mod stomp of 125 West Third Street to the pounding piano and blaring horns of Stardust – rumoured to be a dig at Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie (“He’s a superficial fucker,”) – Nuisance is a fantastically cocky Britpop classic that has more hooks than a second hand clothes stall on Camden market.
Check out The One. If Pete Doherty didn’t nick that sound and that tune for a track or two on the first Libertines album, then my name is not Carl Barat.
Daydreamer, the first song the band ever wrote, is awesome – a menacing, robotic New Wave stutter that sounds more like Wire than Elastica ever did. PopJunkie’s favourite however is the lovely summery ballad Being Brave, which ushers in warm evenings with its sweeping strings and epic, sing-a-long chorus. We’re also partial to the groovy Monkees sound-a-like Sleeping In, which is basically Last Train To Clarksville diverted via the Northern Line, and the Blur-like Little Miss Pinpoint Eyes – a cautionary tale of a posh bird from Hampstead who ends up strung-out on heroin and disco tunes. It really deserves to sell for more than the pitiful £2 or so you can get it for now.
After Nuisance, Menswear returned with a new single, the Beach Boys influenced We Love You, but nobody seemed to care – all except those freaky Japanese girls, that is. The band’s second album, the Japanese-only release, Hey Tiempo, was a massive success in the Far East. Shortly afterwards, the group disbanded. Where are they now? Well, guitarist Chris Gentry was last seen modelling Fred Perry menswear. Ah, the sweet irony….