Mint Royale featuring Lauren Laverne Perform ‘Don’t Falter’

on_the_ropes_mint_royale_-_cover_albumListen to this track by British dance outfit Mint Royale along with Sunderland-born DJ, TV presenter, and former frontwoman for punk-poppers Kenickie, Lauren Laverne.  The song is taken from the group’s 2001 album On the Ropes.

This song was a big hit in England, all over the radio during the last summer I spent there.  Therefore, it holds something of a special place in my heart.  And what  a song it is; just a burst of youthful vigour and the optimism of young love that makes it a classic slice of summery pop.  One of the things that makes it is how strongly Laverne’s perkiness shines through, and as such it has miles and miles of personality along with being highly danceable.

As mentioned, Laverne had made a name for herself as the lead singer and guitarist of the mostly-girl punk pop band Kenickie who had a few hits in the end of the 90s, including ‘Punka’ and the irresistible ‘In Your Car’, It was clear that even though the band was short-lived, it wasn’t for lack of charm.  Laverne and her cohorts had that in spades.  And it’s the charm she exudes which really makes this song shine.

More recently, Laverne has secured a gig as a TV and radio presenter, known for a quirky and ironic style.   Among many shows, she’s presented coverage of the Glastonbury festival, the NME awards, and the British Saturday morning pop show CD:UK, and the London XFM breakfast show .

With those lucrative gigs in broadcasting, it’s unlikely that she’ll continue to develop a solo career  as a pop singer; kind of a shame for those of us who don’t live in Britain, and who (like me) find her to be a breezy, and unaffected pop singer in an age where personality and pop couldn’t be farther apart.


Kenickie Perform “In Your Car”

attheclubHere’s a clip of punk-pop North-Eastern lasses (and a guy drummer) Kenickie with their 1997 British radio hit “In Your Car” as taken from their debut album At the Club. The band was named after John Travolta’s best friend in the movie Grease, which is kind of a teenage girl thing to do, maybe.

There are just some songs that make you smile, and one’s that are designed to make you laugh too.  With this tale of misunderstood intentions about what a ride home means from one person to another, this one is chock full of comedy.  It’s a  very British track that way, the Brits reveling in innuendo to a greater degree than we North Americans.  But the thing that grabbed me most about this song is the “yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah yeah” chorus.  I’m a sucker for that.

I first heard this tune while sitting on my couch in a rented flat in Poplar,  in the East End of London, England.  I went there to work, and while there I got hooked on British music TV shows like Top of the Pops.  And this one was an instant classic for me when I saw Kenickie perform it one night on TotP, just because it was so much fun, with so little artifice.  And I love the sight of women playing electric guitars, who am I kidding?

Yet, it’s soaked in irony too, with the narrator who tells the tale of chatting up a guy for a lift home, complementing his car in such a way that it seems like she’s talking about something else entirely.  Yet, by the end of the song, it turns out that she was talking about the car all along.

The band themselves had a few more hits, a second album, and a John Peel session. But, just as sugar rushes tend to be short-lived, so were Kenickie.  Yet, Lauren Laverne made an impression as a gifted vocalist outside of the punk-pop idiom, singing solo and guesting on dance outfit  Mint Royale’s 2001 single “Don’t Falter” single, which was also a big radio hit.  Later, she would carve out a TV career as a presenter, framing her bubbly personality in a new medium.