Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Undertones: My Perfect Cousin

Is "Teenage Kicks" really the Undertones' pinnacle? It is an incredible distillation of adolescent longing and lust, I mean listen to Feargal croon as if his heart's being ripped from his chest and shown to him before he dies, while the band kicks up a divine racket. The one knock against that song is how it unfairly overshadows the Undertones greatest unhits; "Get Over You", "Here Comes the Summer" "Hypnotized" and "My Perfect Cousin".

What if the Undertones only recorded one song before being blasted to blood and guts by an I.R.A. pipe bomb? Thank God it didn't happen, but if it had then maybe that one song should have been "My Perfect Cousin". Having explored Lust in "Teenage Kicks" the band continued to cover the Seven Deadly Sins (not a band really), with Envy being the focus here. The lyrics lay out the family rivalry in such exquisite detail that it's like an outline of a film; listen and you can see these perfect set pieces being run in the theater of your skull. Hell, the narrative arc here is more fully realized than the last ten Will Ferrell movies.


I've got a cousin called Kevin
He's sure to go to heaven
Always spotless, clean and neat
As smooth as you’ll get ‘em

He's got a fur lined sheepskin jacket
My ma said they cost a packet
But she won't even let me explain
That me and Kevin we’re just not the same

Oh, my perfect cousin
What I like to do he doesn't
He's his family's pride and joy

His mother’s little golden boy

He's got a degree in economics
Maths, physics and bionics
He thinks that I'm a cabbage
‘Cause I hate University Challenge
Even at the age of ten
Smart boy Kevin was a smart boy then
He always beat me at Subbuteo
‘Cause he ‘flicked to kick’
And I didn't know

Repeat chorus

His mother bought him a synthesiser
Got the Human League into advise her
Now he's making lots of noise
Playing along with the art school boys
Girls try to attract his attention
But what a shame, it's in vain, total rejection
He will never be left on the shelf
‘Cause Kevin, he's in love with himself

Repeat chorus

Written By: Michael Bradley / Damian O’Neill

While the Undertones obvious strength may be the quavery but powerful vocal stylings of choirboy Feargal Sharkey, it's the song-writing skills of the O'Neil brothers, John and Damien (both later of That Petrol Emotion) that underpins their greatness. Despite having written just one song on their 1979 debut, it's John who wrote or co-wrote half of 1980's Hypnotized, including their possible pinnacle, "My Perfect Cousin".

My Perfect Cousin 7"

Support the band!


  1. Still my all time favorite Undertones song. Yeah, I'll always prefer the debut album (especially the re-issue with all the bonus tracks) but something about this song just kicks my arse everytime I hear it.

  2. I'm a ceaseless advocate for the second album because it's every bit as good as the first one. But you already know that don't you?

  3. 'You Got My Number' is where my vote goes.

  4. I love all three albums (can I pretend there wasn't a fourth?). "My Perfect Cousin" is the only 12" single I have of theirs, but all the Undertones LPs sound great, including the "All Wrapped Up" comp (publish the cover, please). Since you're so fond of album #2, I'll give you my favorites from that one: "Wednesday Week," "Hypnotized," "There Goes Norman"..."Tearproof"! "Hard Luck"! "What's With Terry"!

    Sorry if I got carried away. I need to hear those songs now.

  5. great song, great band ... a favourite from my youth ...

  6. Mike
    They peeled off great songs at a furious rate.

    Another fine choice - it's a damn competitive field.

    I'm trying to learn to appreciate the later albums (maybe it's time to revisit That Petrol Emotion - but not Feargal's solo work - soon).
    Getting carried away in defense of Hypnotized is no sin.
    All Wrapped Up is up (the cover anyway.

    MArk E.
    Amen, amen, amen.

    P.S. Those church photos are very impressive.

  7. Hi, it's Damian who wrote "My Perfect Cousin" not John. Look at the credits.
    Great blog still!

  8. Great song , I have been always a big fan of the Undertones .

    just posted in my blog


  9. good to see you have the lyrics right. Every other blog out there has "he's his mother's private joy". Where are these people compiling these lyric lists from?

    Everyone from U.K. knows that the phrase is "pride and joy". Thank you for getting that correct.


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