Young, fresh-faced and refreshingly unaffected, the Senseless Things bounded out of the London suburb of Twickenham in the late ’80s. Mark Keds’ willowy lead vocals, Ben Harding’s aggressive but melodic guitar work and Cass Browne’s energetic scattershot drumming (bassist Morgan Nicholls completes the quartet) provided an entertaining one-two punch, borrowing from poppy UK punk bands like the Buzzcocks as well as the grittier American punk’n’roll of the Replacements.
The group enjoyed a successful five-year run in the UK, with a ten-song debut LP, a string of hit singles and EPs (produced by Jon Langford) and regular appearances at England’s big summer festivals. Senseless Things signed to Epic worldwide at the height of its popularity in 1991 but were dropped in America after only one release, the ironically titled The First of Too Many. The album has more than its share of bouncy melodies, sweet harmonies and hummable hooks, especially on tracks like the effervescent “Everybody’s Gone,” but Americans were diving headlong into grunge that year and not terribly interested in what the UK had on offer. The Sensies’ lyrics were probably too British for export anyway; songs like “Got It at the Delmar” and “Fishing at Tescos” were huge hit singles at home but the lyrics made little sense to American ears.
Fans looking for a more comprehensive view of the band’s career might want to check out their Peel Sessions disc, which chronicles three appearances on John Peel’s BBC program. The first four cuts, from March of 1988, capture the early, punkier Sensies, with a raw, stripped-down sound. The second session (February 1990) catches the band at its peak, brightly polished tracks like “Is It Too Late” and “Tell Me What’s on Your Mind” brimming with criss-crossing harmony backup vocals and zingy power riffs. The final session, from October 1993, finds the band in a more somber mood. The songs are moodier, the tempos less manic. None of the dozen songs on the Peel Sessions disc appear on The First of Too Many. The Senseless Things’ last two albums were never released in the US; the group disbanded in 1995.