Music

The Royal We: The Royal We

The Royal We rocks just the way any other wobbly gig loaded with artsy part-time barista types ought to. Except that these guys also possess the rare ability to write stupid-good songs.


The Royal We

The Royal We

Contributors: Simmons, Jihae
Label: Domino
First date: 2007-11-05
US Release Date: 2008-08-19
UK Release Date: 2007-11-05
Website
Amazon
Amazon
iTunes

This one’s a Glasgow baby through and through. Birthed amid the ramshackle cacophonia of dorm-room jam sessions, and then rushed through to an especially pimply adolescence, this jagged little fragment of hyperactive twee pop somehow managed to grow into a gangly, undersized amalgam of the Raincoats, Vaselines and Belle & Sebastian. Led by lost angel Jihae Simmons, whose voice is, in fact, more Eugene Kelly than Frances McKee, the Royal We rocks just the way any other wobbly gig loaded with artsy part-time barista types ought to. Except that these guys also possess the rare ability to write stupid-good songs.

For starters, the ukulele on “Back and Forth All Day” is just about as dry as good British humor gets, stomping all over the prissy little tea parties of lesser devils like The Boy Least Likely To. Furthermore, Simmons tends to write the sort of lyrics you can basically memorize after three listens while thankfully sidestepping the more than occasional four-tracked Alanis-isms of soul sister Kimya Dawson. Instead, lyrics that run, “Call this home ‘cause you’re my sweet / And home sweet home is where we meet / So please be patient at the station / Nothing will bring our defeat,” register as razor ammunition for the album’s greater rejection of lame “hit it and quit it” jive posturing. Other tunes to tackle the subject include the stupendously repetitive “All the Rage,” as well as the referential/reverential “I Hate Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

Incidentally, “All the Rage” is the album’s best track -- an irrepressible blast of melody rudely anchored by the dirt-simple frenzy of the band’s performance. Following an introduction of escalating “Ooh-ahs,” the song’s dueling, triangular guitars seem to suggest a ragged response to the karate chops of not-quite-royals Franz Ferdinand. Its chorus, on the other hand, has more in common with the softer, breathless vocal delivery of Belle & Sebastian’s “Sleep the Clock Around.” Whatever the case may be, the song figures to be featured heavily on more than a few of your next iTunes party playlists. Honestly, you won’t be able to fight it. But just how hooky is it, you ask? Think of a curly hedgehog or something. In fact, it might even be hookier than Dustin Hoffman in Hook! And that, my friends, defines as pretty hooky.

Unfortunately, though, the band has called it quits. Indeed, apparently modeling their career on the fifteen-minute noise explosions of early Jesus and Mary Chain shows, the Royal We is no more. Once again, the Vaselines’ abbreviated oeuvre comes to mind. For, despite an unusual compulsion to pass along the torch so hurriedly, the Royal We certainly seem a more than worthy addition to the still vibrant Glasgow tradition. At any rate, having jabbed at indie success and scored at least one good hit, the band and its sole record -- comprising just over twenty minutes of music -- will surely be remembered for its insistent, unselfconscious songs as well as its endless playability. Did I mention that they cover Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game?

9


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Solo Albums

Fleetwood Mac are the rare group that feature both a fine discography and a successful series of solo LPs from their many members. Here are ten examples of the latter.

Music

Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.

Film

The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.

Music

'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.

Music

Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.

Books

Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pays Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.

Music

South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.

Music

Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.

Music

'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.

Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.