March 04, 1991 12:00 PM

Happy Mondays

Part of the posse of bands that have emerged from Manchester, England, in the last couple of years, Happy Mondays initially got overshadowed by the raves bestowed on the Stone Roses, whose debut album was on the charts for six months last year. More recently they’ve emerged as the Roses’ chief rival in the depravity-celebrating English dance-rock sweepstakes, but here’s another opinion: The Mondays may deserve the second billing.

For starters, their songs often leave you with a nagging where-have-I-heard-that-before feeling, which is too bad because occasionally they come up with a semioriginal, danceable hook. While the free-flowing funk of “Dennis and Lois” is interesting enough, they follow it with the creepy “Bob’s Yer Uncle.” On that track, lead singer Shaun Ryder provides the licentious vocals and describes lots of naughty acts, but how entertaining can a song be when it’s about somebody’s deviant relative?

No, there doesn’t seem to be any deeper meaning to the avuncular misbehavior.

Ryder generally writes indecipherable lyrics that, in the rare moments when you can even understand what he’s crowing about, still leave you scratching your head. “Yippee, yippee, yi, yi, yea, yea/ I had to crucify somebody today” goes the typically oblique refrain on “Kinky Afro.”

Perhaps the Mondays have, as the sports pundits like to say, the tools for stardom. But first they have to dig themselves out from under the muddled songwriting. (Elektra)

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