Eugene Kelly's second band -- called Captain America for about five minutes, until the comic book's lawyers called -- got roughly 100 times the American interest that his first group, the Vaselines, were ever afforded, largely because by the time their first album, Oomalama, was released, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain had declared that the Vaselines were his favorite group. Cobain even went so far as to induce his old label Sub Pop to release all of the Vaselines' tracks on one CD, and to record a version of their "Molly's Lips" for a B-side that eventually ended up on the Incesticide compilation. Unfortunately, this really didn't help Eugenius much at all; although Atlantic Records picked up the Glasgow-based group's U.S. option from the tiny U.K. indie Fire Records and gave Oomalama a sizable promotional push, the record didn't fare too well commercially. It could be argued that Eugenius, like their buddies Teenage Fanclub (whose Francis MacDonald plays drums on Oomalama) simply weren't angsty enough to fit in the Nirvana/Pearl Jam mold of the day. Though the album has all the noisy guitars you could want, it's got a distinctly sunny vibe that was at odds with the mopey grunge scene. You weren't going to see Alice in Chains record a song that consisted of nothing but the nonsense word "oomalama" repeated a couple of hundred times, interspersed with an equally inexplicable chorus. Oomalama is an all-but-forgotten gem, 14 delightfully noisy indie pop tunes (including a faithful version of Beat Happening's oft-covered "Indian Summer") with nice touches like the '60s organ underpinning "Breakfast" making them sound a lot less claustrophobic than many albums of the day did. Kelly's melodic choruses get maximum mileage out of his not-that-great voice, and Jamie Watson's production gets a surprising amount of musical and emotional shading out of the same multiply-overdubbed guitars it seemed like every other band was using. (The sweet, cello-accented acoustic ballad "Hot Dog" helped open the album up a bit as well.) It's a shame that this album was virtually ignored when nothing-special noise merchants like Screaming Trees were able to score hits the same year.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason