Denim - Denim on ice (NME)

DENIM? WEREN'T they wiped out in the Great Irony Crash of '93, where Suede turned from glam fops to pomp gods overnight and everyone else realised it was time to get responsible? Y'know, to be a credit to the nation for once? Erm, yeah, they were. But a little musical Zeitgeist isn't going to get in the way of Lawrence, the man who patented indie-angst with Felt, and missed the glam-revival gravy train by a platform sole first time round?
Sad to report, then, that 'Denim On Ice' finds all that failure going straight to Lawrence's head. "Everybody believes what they read in the NME," he declares, not unreasonably, in opening anti-trad-rock ditty 'The Great Pub Rock Revival' and, from there on, the mood's set. Lawrence is heartily pissed off with the world, and there's nothing his usual heavy dose of irony can do to smooth things over. Still, there are some great images here. 'Supermodel' has Lawrence drawing a seedy picture of glamour photography to the tune from 'Kids In America' (followed, inevitably, by a mention of Kim herself in the first line of next song, 'Shut Up Sidney'). 'Brumburger' only fails because, halfway through a deliriously coy electro-lament, he gives up on the lyrics and drawls, "I think I'll stay on these chords a little while longer, babe", like he's given up altogether. Alright, so he follows it with a stinging, "I once killed a baby before it was born, babe", but this just throws us even more. Who does Lawrence want us to believe he is? Ironic Grandmaster or Disillusioned Pop Star In Exile?

Who knows? The 18 songs present, recorded in the two-and-a-half years since Denim last surfaced, cover everything from low-rent drug addiction ('Glue And Smack') to Ultravox parody ('Synthesizers In The Rain') to, well, you name it.

But all the while, the undercurrent remains: Lawrence just isn't prepared to let his latest opus slip by without letting us know he's still up for one last crack at pop ultra-stardom (especially evident in the oddly ambiguous 'Best Song In The World'). All in all, pretty depressing when you consider that Denim were skating on thin ice with their kitsch-pop sideshow from the off.

So the Denim story takes a peculiar turn. Too bitter to get by on the clever-cleverness that once sustained him, 'Denim On Ice' simply captures Lawrence and his group as we'd never thought we'd see them: shaking their fists at the world and demanding that the judges stage a recount - which, sadly, they won't.

Rating: 5