As with most Beautiful South albums, the songs were written by Dave Rotheray and Paul Heaton. The songs reflect a depressing moment in Heaton's life, and this continues with the follow-up album Blue is the Colour. The best example of this on the album is the opening track "Hold on to What?", which could be interpreted as an attack on the ruling classes, this is most evident at the end of the song where Heaton sings 'Chamberlain had his paper, Jesus had his cross, They held on, We held on to what?'
The songs also led the South's first female singer, Briana Corrigan, to leave the band, after Heaton sent her copies of the songs, including "Mini-correct" and "Worthless Lie", she swiftly made the decision to leave. Equally swiftly, Heaton employed the then-unknown Jacqui Abbott in her place, who went on to appear on every album up to Painting It Red.
The cover originally depicted a lot of dogs seated in a music hall with a gramophone on the stage. However, HMV made the band withdraw it as it mocked their trademark dog, and the band put out a second cover, depicting four dogs in a boat. Both paintings were created by Michael Sowa.
It reached number 6 in the album charts, and had three singles released from it. Norman Cook, former band member of The Housemartins with Paul Heaton, is credited in the sleeve notes as doing the "Programming on Hooligans" (track 7).