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ROYAL REPUBLIC - 'Club Majesty' Album Review


1. Fireman & Dancer

2. Can’t Fight The Disco

3. Boomerang

4. Under Cover

5. Like A Lover

6. Blunt Force Trauma

7. Fortune Favors

8. Flower Power Madness

9. Stop Movin’

10. Anna-Leigh

11. Bulldog

‘Can you review this’, they said. ‘It may not be your kind of thing’, they said. Well, what’s a guy to do, just review stuff you know you’re going to like? It’s a conundrum.

Cards on the table and honest with you from the start. As Lars, my Dutch buddy says, ‘it’s not my bag of trousers’! And like Lars, with Swedish disco rockers ROYAL REPUBLIC, maybe something just got lost in translation. I know what it’s getting at but somehow it doesn’t quite make sense.

Disco-Rock is a fair description of the sound on this album and forgive my ignorance about the Malmo music scene and whether or not ROYAL REPUBLIC are representative of that, but the words Disco, and Rock should never be uttered in the same sentence.

Sweden has done pretty well over the years, to bring its exports to these shores. The classy Cardigans with the sublime vocals of Nina Persson, of course, Abba, the most successful of the Nordic invasion, and then there is The Hives.

The Hives is the closest I can get to a comparison of ROYAL REPUBLIC, but it is nothing to do with the sound, the song writing or the musical genre. It’s to do with the tongue firmly in cheek approach to the music and theatricals. They are ‘playing’ big time here and evidently having a ball.

ROYAL REPUBLIC can play alright: the musicianship is top class and ‘Club Majesty’ is superbly produced. In fact, it is almost too perfect. The energy of the band is evident on the record. but the sound is so clean and clinical it’s as if it has been swabbed down like an operating theatre. The ‘Rock’ has been all but removed like an expunged bacterium.

The funk laden ‘Under Cover’ and ‘Flower Power Madness’ are sound barometers of what you can expect from most of the tracks. ‘Bulldog’ is a dubious rival to ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’ with its endlessly repeated phrase and for me, lets down the album. The only exception to high speed Disco is ‘Like A Lover’, which gives a doorway into a darker, edgier milieu and one I would have liked to hear more of.

I will say that the song structures are interesting, never dull and surprise you at every turn. It’s all pretty high tempo stuff and I’m sure if any one of the funky Disco beats on this album cascaded through the sound system at a club, I’d be on the dancefloor doing my best ‘dad dancing’.

But that’s not going to happen! Not because ROYAL REPUBLIC won’t break through with this record. It’s that I am unlikely to be in such a club and I am unlikely to be listening to a radio station that will play this genre of music. I’m sure it will do well, and probably deserves to.

My Dutch friend Lars, I think would like ‘Club Majesty’, but me? It’s just not my bag of trousers!

Review - Mark Welby Johnson

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