London WC2 LA2

Every song yields a comforting sense of [I]dij`-vu[/I], from the [B]Walker Brothers[/B] earnestness of [B]'The Underdogs'[/B] to the [a]Pulp[/a] pop-glam of [B]'Untouchable'[/B]...

London WC2 LA2

It's been a dramatic year for Rialto. Well, no, it hasn't really. They got dropped and then they, er, got signed again, but no doubt this troupe of flouncing fops view '98 in appropriately histrionic terms.

Everything about Rialto reeks of studied glamour. They employ two drummers for that pounding Motown sound, although sadly, two drums combined still sound like one drum. They write songs about being awake quite early in the morning, just like Otis Redding. And Louis Eliot sashays onto the stage wearing shades, just like, you know, every pop star ever.

Maybe we should be grateful that they seem to care so much. Louis will never be a rock idol, but as with Mark Almond, it's the gap between his half-ironic delusions of grandeur and the reality of his obscure status in the public eye that ensures a charismatic performance.

Yet his preening ultimately reveals itself to be the plastic pomp of a man who believes he's Bowie in '71, singing 'The Man Who Sold The World' while the world yawns, knowing he's got a few star-shaped surprises up his sleeve that'll soon wow the kids. But there are no surprises with Rialto, just the familiar ring of minor chords and the empty lilt of old harmonies. Every song yields a comforting sense of dij`-vu, from the Walker Brothers earnestness of 'The Underdogs' to the Pulp pop-glam of 'Untouchable'. They conjure up the spectre of Spector, but it's only with 'Monday Morning 5:19' that they manage to channel his symphonic chakra effectively.

Then they cover 'Wild Is The Wind' and it's tortuous. Because ultimately Rialto are better at rewriting the past than trying to exhume it. And you better get used to Rialto's revisions: there are a lot of outdated ideas out there they haven't yet plundered.

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