I know very little about the short-lived Brit-pop band Popinjays, and the internet reveals even less; their Wikipedia entry, for example, consists entirely of a teeny discography preceded by two paragraphs, one of which details how the band temporarily contained “a girl called Emma on bass.” If the World Wide Web can’t even bother finding out someone’s last name, full-on research is sure to be nigh impossible.
In other words, there’s not going to be much to this Best Song Ever entry beyond a simple “omigod omigod omigod this song is teh awesome!!1!” I apologize in advance.
Here’s what I know about the group: essentially a duo of Wendy Robinson and Polly Hancock, with other band mates coming and going to fill in the supporting gaps, Popinjays released three albums in the early 90s before more or less disappearing somewhere after their 1994 effort Tales from the Urban Prairie. (The band’s MySpace page offers some details regarding their sort-of rise and nothing about what followed, other than a quick note to explain they have no new gigs in their foreseeable future.)
While it’s currently remembered almost entirely for the prominence of grunge, the early 90s indie music scene was much more diverse. Popinjays (a “The” was used in their name intermittently, but I’ll stick to the article-less moniker that graced their first two albums) belonged to that pleasant corner known as UK-flavored “power-pop,” which is a polite way of saying it’s pop chart stuff in Britain that got relegated to the alternative section of your American record store, lest your average Mariah Carey fan actually have to bother listening to something less shrieky – which is why bands like Erasure and Pulp could top the UK charts while barely cracking the American ones.
Which brings me, finally, to “Monster Mouth,” the first track from their 1992 album Flying Down to Mono Valley (even the album cover is delightful), and, well, omigod omigod omigod this song is teh awesome. Produced by Ian Broudie, there’s a clear Lightning Seeds vibe here – not in the sound itself, but in the sheer pleasantness of it, that thin line between whimsical and twee. Robinson’s voice is as charming as it is playful, delicately floating around like a balloon that can never touch the ground.
The lyrics are among the many Popinjays-related things that fail to be found online, so forgive me if I’m wildly off the mark here; Robinson is occasionally drowned out by the jangly guitars, making translation difficult at times. From what I can gather, the sweet gal is bemoaning her habit of turning into a babbling fool around her crush. But, really, how much bemoaning can one do with a chorus as joyous as this, with its refrain of “please stop me from speaking” that’s delivered with what one imagines to be the most adorable grin?
It’s a song that’s just so gosh-darn happy and doggone cute, you can’t help but smile. Some of you may even decide to bounce around the room, which is perfectly within reason. “Monster Mouth” is carefully calculated to put you in a good mood. Also, it is teh awesome.