• Menswe@r
  • Nuisance (Laurel/London) 1995 

Although the need for a post-punk version of Duran Duran hasn’t exactly been established, this young suburban London quintet came strutting into the UK press headlines proudly proclaiming themselves precisely that. Unflaggingly attentive to fashion and generally capable of pouting through big-lipped, big-riffed glam-pop confections with attitude to spare, Menswe@r does its best to make precursors like Suede look like the Grateful Dead. It would be easier to dismiss them if frontman Johnny Dean didn’t have such an innate comprehension of what makes a pop singer into a pop star: the sneered asides that punctuate the Wire-damaged “Daydreamer” and the melodramatic sweep that blankets “Being Brave” positively radiate charisma. His bandmates capture the limelight on occasion — guitarists Chris Gentry and Simon White toss off a fair Richards/Taylor counterfeit on the cheeky “Stardust” — but only Dean has the potential to catapult this otherwise ordinary band to teen-dream status.

[Deborah Sprague]