(Sevens, a recurring feature on Aquarium Drunkard, pays tribute to the art of the individual song.)
AD is spending the month of May looking at some one-hitters from the 90s; an age rife with overlooked “alternative” gems from the days of 120 Minutes and the just below-the-surface power-pop scene that was bursting with great music. Sevens takes a look at a handful of these singles.
The mid-90s were an interesting time for bands riding the Britpop-invasion. Blur, Oasis and Radiohead had, in various ways, made American radio safe again for an English accent or two. But after those three heavyweights, it was a mixed bag of results. Some great bands were lost in the shuffle, never to make an American impact (Lush, Sleeper – even Pulp, as massive as they were, never had a real American hit) while some sub-par groups slipped in (see: Bush). Then there was another clutch of bands that had one genuine radio hit before disappearing from the American radio dial. Included in this group are the glam-revivalists in Spacehog.
Spacehog was a group of Brits based out of New York City, but their location didn’t stop them from embracing the obvious Brit-glam touchstones: Bowie, T. Rex, Mott the Hoople, Slade. Spacehog was a bit frothier than their contemporary glam-lovers in Placebo – they didn’t have the dark, psycho-sexual edge of that band by any stretch. Rather, Spacehog seemed to hold onto the vaguely science-fiction tropes of Bowie while embracing the hook-laden pop smarts of Slade and T. Rex. The results were a debut, Resident Alien, and a lead single, “In the Meantime,” that embraced the poppier edges of the genre.
“In the Meantime” is driven by a up-front bass line that supports a synthesizer effect and some some cosmic lyrics. Spacehog, despite their lyrics carrying the fun and fantasy feel of their overall sounds, was never a bit words band and it’s the music that makes “In the Meantime” as fun as it is. The chorus sounds like bits of Bowie and T. Rex mashed together and surges over the listeners with its snaking lead. The song builds this momentum into an uneasy, unresolved bridge that makes the chorus coda even more uplifting. It’s a summertime feeling song and one of great head-bobbing and air-guitar potential. It’s a glorious single song and helped propel the album to gold selling status. Their follow up was, despite the lack of an equal single, even better, but sadly overlooked. Ah, the fickle fortunes of fate. words/ j neas
MP3: Spacehog :: In the Meantime