Review Summary: Here come The Undertones!
If you have to credit the punk movement in the seventies for one thing, it's that it caused a welcome return of interest to the 3-minute pop song. The early seventies' music charts were dominated by the musical dinosaurs that were Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Yes and so many others, who apparently couldn't write a song if it wasn't over 9 minutes long. But all that changed when the Ramones entered the scene in '76. In their wake, a whole new type of bands, who weren't very technical in their guitar playing, arose to the scene and songs could again be short and have catchy choruses. One of these bands was The Undertones and their debut album came out in May 1979 (and already re-released in October of the same year, to include the successful singles Teenage Kicks and Get Over You).
The Undertones scored big time with their first single Teenage Kicks, a punk anthem if there ever was one. It was fast, loud, had a massive sing-a-long chorus and most of all: it was fun. Instead of criticizing the politics, society or whatever - as most punk bands did those days - the song described the joys of teenage love and wanting to hold the hand of a pretty girl, how sweet. The following singles Get Over You and Jimmy Jimmy were equally as fun and fast, and The Undertones had found their niche. So a debut album was recorded and released in May 1979.
Here we have that very same debut album, and it must be said: the album has aged very well. These are very simple, 4 chord punk tracks, but executed with so much enthusiasm, you cannot help but smile all the way through. Not much variation in arrangements is to be found here (obviously), but as the album finishes around 30 minutes of playing time, let's not consider that a negative factor. That said, there is some form of rudimentary experimentation or sound evolution from the first singles present: the synthesizer is introduced in a couple of tracks, most notably on the best song of the album Here Comes The Summer. It's cheesy as hell, but at least it doesn't sound gimmicky, as opposed to the saxophone on the debut of X-Ray Spex.
As stated previously, the lyrics aren't very smart or sophisticated, but who cares anyway. The choruses will get stuck in your head for days, together with the doo-doo-doos of the backing vocals (Wrong Way, Listening In). The voices of the band members (like The Beatles, each member sings on different songs) are clean and poppy, but still have bit of roughness in them, perfectly fitting the music.
All in all, The Undertones released a timeless and near-perfect pop album, which should be heard by as many people as possible. It will brighten up your day anytime (at least a little bit) with its naive teenage enthusiasm.