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The Royal We

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Album Review

The Royal We sound like a computer program designed them to be the ideal Scottish pop group. Take Josef K's angular, danceable rhythms, add some of the Pastels' innocent charm and Belle & Sebastian's archly witty lyrical bent, sprinkle on a fair bit of the girl group sass of the Shop Assistants and the FU attitude of the Jesus and Mary Chain, and you get the picture. Only the Royal We don't sound calculated or fake; they bring the template to life with some amazingly hooky songs on their debut self-titled record. (Debut and only, because the group split soon after the record's initial release in December of 2006.) "All the Rage" is the breakout song from the record and it deserves any positive notice thrown its way. From the dramatic opening to the uplifting chorus and through to the handclaps and "ooh ooh ooh ah" backing vocals, the song is as exciting as punky indie pop gets. Two other album tracks aren't far behind: "Three Is a Crowd," which rides a great guitar riff and drum pattern, and "I Hate Rock n Roll," a brutally honest takedown of male rock star hijinks with singer Jihae Simmons delivering lines like "Ooh you're sexy like T. Rexy/Put that body away" in a manner that's sure to put the boys in their proper place. The rest of the album is solid and fun, nothing to sneeze at for sure. There are two problems with the album, though; the first is minor, and the second is very sad. First, Joan Sweeney's slightly annoying presence on the violin begins to wear on the ears after a bit. On a few of the songs the sound is integrated well ("All the Rage" especially), but the rest of the time Sweeney saws along in a little bubble that floats outside of the songs like a bee you can't quite swat. Her work on the band's otherwise great cover of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" almost single-handedly sinks the group's efforts. However, for the most part, the songs and performances by the rest of the band are good enough to make it possible to ignore the violin. Second, it's painful that this will be the only Royal We record ever. Many of the band's members moved on to other quite good bands (Sexy Kids, Bricolage, Correcto), but the chemistry they had as the Royal We will be hard to replicate. Any band that creates a song as thrilling as "All the Rage" will be missed — and listeners shouldn't miss The Royal We, the only document of their time together.


Formed: 2005 in Glasgow, Scotland

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

The Scottish indie pop group The Royal We started when singer Jihae Simmons and lead guitarist Roxanne Clifford first thought of the band name and then decided to form a group around it in 2005. Adding second guitarist Patrick Doyle, violinist Joan Sweeney, multi-instrumentalist Graeme Ronald (who is also a part-time touring member of post-rock icons Mogwai), and drummer Colin Kearney (also one-third of the sprightly indie outfit Bricolage), the Royal We started playing locally around Glasgow, but...
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The Royal We, The Royal We
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