• royal we The Royal We (CD, £8.25)

    label: geographic

    REVIEW FROM THE LINE OF BEST FIT: Brevity would appear to be something of a watchword for the Glasgow-based band, The Royal We. Having got together in 2006, by the time you read this review they will already have split – keeping their promise to do so after releasing one album. The short span of their career is matched on this, their first and last album released, by the short number of songs featured (eight) and the shortness of each of those songs themselves (the longest – clocking in at a massive 3 minutes and 7 seconds, is a cover version). You shouldn’t assume, however, that it is any lack of inspiration or ideas that is responsible for the brevity. Each song on this gem of an album packs a quantity of ideas, innovation and pop-knowhow that belies its length. Unexpected unconventional song structures are often used entertainingly and successfully. On “All The Rage”, for example, the majority of the song is spent with a series of “Ooh ooh aah”s building up in speed and volume to a giddy crescendo, at which point, with an exclamation of “all RIGHT!” the song “proper” starts, full of handclaps and a joyful sense of fun, only to end less than a minute later. The next track too, “That Ain’t My Sweet Love”, features a quite dramatic change of pace in the middle. Another distinctive feature of this rather distinctive band is their marked air of innocence. This often comes across in a Blondie-like tough-yet-sweet way, as on “That Ain’t My Sweet Love”; and is even maintained on “Three Is a Crowd” – a tale of youthful sexual indiscretion (an impromptu threesome) which could end up sounding sleazy but instead still manages to charm and amuse. The disdainful repetition of “One-two-three / Would you get off of me / Four-five-six / He’s getting his kicks” sounds like a nursery rhyme gone horribly wrong, but the whole story is told in an honest and engaging way. There’s a noticeable Glam Rock feel to this album in places – partly due to the catchyness of their tunes; and the influence is acknowledged in “I Hate Rock ‘n’ Roll” in the lyric “Ooh you’re sexy / Like T-Rex-y”. The album closes with that rarest of things – a successful cover version. Their version of Chris Isaac’s “Wicked Game” manages a total change of mood from the original’s one of languor and regret. Here it becomes a tale of anger, frustration and lust, and is all the better for it. Other things that I really liked about this band include their ability to tell a little story (”Three Is a Crowd”) or describe a character in a concise yet believable way (the wonderful orange-haired “Willy”, who spends New Year’s Eve unembarrassedly drinking milk). Less talented bands could produce songs three times this long yet fail to create such convincing images as these; and all done in such an upbeat way. I keep wanting to use the word “charming” to discuss these songs, as I’ve certainly been charmed by them. A career, and an album then, both short but undeniably sweet. 81%


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