90 songs of my Nineties Youth : Sleeper – Inbetweener

For a primer on what the (admittedly fairly self-explanatory) series 90 songs of my Nineties Youth is all about see here. This week, Sleeper with Inbetweener.

The Song

After a couple of minor successes with the slightly edgier Swallow and Delicious from their debut album Smart, Inbetweener was Sleeper’s first big pop hit, and one of the most memorable songs of the Britpop era. A musically jaunty, lyrically sharp tale of a half-hearted relationship, its’ success was also helped by the Dale Winton featuring, supermarket set video.

Does it still sound good today?

Mixed. Lyrically it’s great, and Louise Wener remains one of Britpop’s more underrated lyricists. Musically, however it sounds very generic of the indie music of the time, and therefore rather dated. When I was first discovering music in the 1990s, I never thought that my music would sound so identifiably Nineties, because, to me, that was just how music was supposed to sound. Some songs are good enough to transcend the particular sound of their era, but I’m not sure Inbetweener is.

What Happened Next?

Louise Wener’s way with words meant she got plenty of coverage in the music press, but frustratingly was never taken as seriously as a songwriter as her male contemporaries. Meanwhile, the other members of the band became known generically as Sleeperblokes, a term for ignored male members of bands fronted by charismatic, attractive women. Either NME or Melody Maker ran a feature to determine which band had the ultimate Sleeperblokes, which in a shock result Sleeper didn’t actually win.

Sleeper’s second album The It Girl was as successful as their first, if not more so, with hits like What Do I Do Now and Sale of The Century, but by the time of their third album Pleased To Meet You the band’s creative and personal relationships had started to fall apart, and they split soon after. Members of the band moved into music related areas such as music teaching and artist management. Wener wrote several novels and an excellent autobiography on her time in the band. A reunion does not appear to be imminent


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