The Vaselines' ''Sex With an X''

Scottish indie-popsters The Vaselines got their biggest break a couple years after they broke up, when Nirvana featured a cover of the group’s song “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam” in their classic MTV Unplugged set. Formed around singing-songwriting duo Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee, the Vaselines’ entire recorded output, summarized neatly in a 1992 compilation called The Way of the Vaselines, amounted to little more than a couple of EPs and a single full-length album called Dum Dum. Their songs – which boasted titles like “Oliver Twisted” and “Monsterpussy” – were as adorable as the Japanese ceramic figurines you might find in any given antique shop, and just as cracked as their glazes. (Sample lyric: “I’m gonna skin it and wear it as a hat, every day.”)

Like the earliest episodes of South Park or Pee Wee Herman’s original stage act, The Vaselines’ music is delivered with rudimentary technical skill, a formal vocabulary geared towards kids (South Park’s goofy animation, Pee Wee Herman’s goofy costume and voice, The Vaselines repetitive, elementary singalong melodies), but with content deeply inappropriate for that audience. That’s absolutely the case with the group’s 2010 reunion single, even if the title track from their 20-years-after-the-fact sophomore album Sex With an X isn’t half as lyrically as naughty as its title would suggest. The first time I heard this – Feels so good, it must be bad for me – I thought, “Wow, these guys could be writing for Barney or The Wiggles.” Thankfully, Kelly & McKee use their powers for good and not evil, and they also deliver a great little video playing an indie rock duo who left indie rock to become sunbeams for Jesus (err – a nun and a priest), but ultimately return to their musical and spiritual roots. Amen to that.