The Royal We - The Royal We
Tom Blackburn 13/11/2007
After just over a year of shambolic, freewheeling experimentalism and countless line-up changes, Glaswegian art-schoolers The Royal We called it a day, leaving a reasonably good-looking corpse and this mini-album as their last goodbye.
But The Royal We struggled to capture the vitality of their live performances on record, and sadly this mini-album does little to change that. All the songs here have been widely circulated in demo form, but the band seem uncomfortable in making the transition from stage to studio, and consequently their self-titled debut is disappointingly restrained.
Jihae Simmons, however, remains a fascinating presence, her tongue-in-cheek lyrics loaded with charismatic delivery and the band behind her specialise in jerky twee-punk, like a grown-up Los Campesinos! or a more rough-and-ready Orange Juice. The slinky 'French Vitality' shows the band have surprisingly decent chops, but like some of the other material here, lacks the endearing ramshackle romance of their gigs.
'All the Rage', the band's sole single, remains an undeniably infectious slice of Raincoats-influenced guitar pop and is the best song here, driven by frantic violin and boasting some rather fine ooh-ooh-aahs, which are usually welcome. The breezy 'I Hate Rock 'n' Roll' is another highlight, swinging along with total abandon and punctuated by a great 'stop, drop and roll' refrain.
But with such a small repertoire, The Royal We's debut / farewell release has the odd clunker and its running order is questionable. 'Back and Forth Forever' opens the album in forgettable fashion, whilst 'Willy' and 'That Ain't My Sweet Love' sound formulaic on record. Strangest of all, though, is the decision to close the record with a plodding cover of Chris Isaak's execrable 'Wicked Game', which smacks of filler.
But despite its faults, The Royal We is a fitting epitaph for the band: raw, energetic, flawed and romantic, it never outstays its welcome. Imperfect but intriguing.