What is a perfect album? One could make an argument that a perfect album is one that sets out a specific set of artistic criteria and then fulfills them flawlessly. In that respect, and many others, the Undertones' 1979 debut is a perfect album. The Northern Ireland quintet's brief story is no different than that of literally dozens of other bands to form in the wake of the Clash and, more importantly, the Buzzcocks, but the group infuses so much unabashed joy in their two-minute three-chord pop songs, and there's so little pretension in their unapologetically teenage worldview, that even the darker hints of life in songs like the suicide-themed "Jimmy Jimmy" are delivered with a sense of optimism at odds with so many of their contemporaries. There's no fewer than three all-time punk-pop classics here; besides that song, the singles "Teenage Kicks" and "Get Over You" are simple declarations of teenage hormonal lust that somehow manage to be cute instead of Neanderthal; perhaps it's Feargal Sharkey's endearingly adenoidal whine, or the chipper way the O'Neill brothers pitch in on schoolboy harmonies, like a teenage Irish Kinks. All of the other 13 songs, even the 47-second blip "Casbah Rock," are nearly to that level of brilliance, with the frenetic "Girls Don't Like It" a particular standout. The Rykodisc CD adds seven demos and single sides, and also includes an entirely different, punkier version of "True Confessions" than the nervous, new wave-influenced throb of the version on the original U.K. vinyl.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason