It's no surprise I have little recollection of the release of Leeds Uni foursome Ultra's self-titled debut album in February 1999 as it barely dented the Top 40. It's a shame as it's packed with some of the sharpest, freshest pop you could hope for, from opener Say You Do, through single Say It Once to the unlikely prog close, New Dimension, made up of two tracks - Way to Go and No Place Like Home - that segue into each other.
2. 2wo Third3
In the mid-1990s, former Pet Shop Boys/East 17/Bros manager Tom Watkins picked up gay, synth-driven quartet 2wo Third3. Singles I Want the World, I Want to Be Alone, Ease the Pressure and Hear Me Calling were marketed with a cartoony East 17 meets Clockwork Orange-style image and a plethora of remixes. Around the same time, Watkins also put together boy-girl quartet Deuce but they didn't amount to much either, despite hits Call It Love, I Need You and On the Bible.
3. Let Loose
Before Cathy Dennis was vaunted for her pop craft, this mid-90s band shrewdly harnessed the writing and production skills of Nik Kershaw. Kershaw had a slew of hits in the 1980s, including Wouldn't It Be Good, I Won't Let the Sun Go Down On Me and The Riddle, as well as penning The One and Only for Chesney Hawkes in 1991. He went back to working on his own material, producing a couple of pleasing albums, 15 Seconds (1999) and To Be Frank (2001), more notable for their tunefulness than lyrical concerns.