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The Royal We - The Royal We

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Artist: The Royal We

Album: The Royal We

Label: Domino

Review date: Oct. 24, 2008

Once upon a time in Glasgow, six people met, discovered their shared pop sensibilities and presumable fondness for lolcats, and started a band called the Royal We. It lasted for about a year, whereupon singer Jihae Simmons went back to Los Angeles, guitarist Patrick Doyle joined a band called Correcto, and everyone else went about his or her business like a normal private citizen. The Royal We, either a very short album or an eight-song EP, is Domino’s document of that year-or-so of majestic plurality.

That’s about all there is to it. The record, like the band itself, is buoyed by the single “All the Rage,” which is neither slick nor particularly professional but completely catchy in a joyful and effortless kind of way. From there, it’s downhill, albeit at a very gentle slope. There’s the confused evil-blues number “That Ain’t My Sweet Love,” the winningly nonsensical high-school-band jam “Willy,” and a mildly riotous take on Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Love.” Perhaps if the single, slaphappy violin that follows these songs around were a string quartet, the Royal We might have been a slightly more obvious version of Belle & Sebastian. As it is, for production values and all-around effort, it was more like a party thrown by and for people who had a passing interest in Belle & Sebastian and knew, more or less, how to play an instrument.

There’s nothing wrong with that, assuming the members’ primary goal was to enjoy themselves (which the “All the Rage” video suggests they did). But that is, once again, all there is to it. There’s charm here, but it’s mostly second-hand, photos from a party you didn’t go to. So the Royal We distilled the essence of had-to-be-there and then called it quits, leaving a truly great band name off-limits for another dozen years or so.

By Daniel Levin Becker

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