In the future, everything will be faster and harder and sexier....
Welcome to Republica's visionary second album, bursting with references to semi-cool consumer trash and semi-chic west London postal districts. More Max Headroom than Blade Runner, more Network 7 than JG Ballard, it's called 'Speed Ballads' but could equally have been christened 'Internet Fax Machine Credit Card Virtual Reality Personal Pager Thingies Erm Cable Television And Lots Of Other Space Age Stuff Baby'. Much snappier.
This kind of Ladbroke Grove-bred cyberpunk future-shock rock has a noble lineage dating back to The Clash and their not-so-noble bastard offspring Westworld, Sigue Sigue Sputnik and Transvision Vamp. When the formula works it can be great: pointedly plastic pop with the controlled rage of punk and the lascivious pulse of disco. Sadly for Republica, this requires wit, subtlety and mighty melodies, all of which are seriously lacking here.
Admittedly singer Saffron is a perfect, purpose-built pop princess - or she could be if those millions of joystick-tugging Internerds would stop wanking over Lara sodding Croft for long enough to fixate on an almost-real human female. Like Lara, Saffron seems to have been digitally generated and fitted with that fake-angry, semi-cockney stage-school voice that Toyah or Hazel O'Connor adopted when they were surveying the post-punk wasteland. With her supermodel-style brand name and starring role in a Pepsi commercial, Saffron is totally NOW! She really should write a Wendy James-style song called 'Media Overload Manufactured Channel Surfing Baby'. Or something.
Oh crikey - she has! Ten songs, in fact, all set five minutes into the future. Songs like 'Luxury Cage' and (oh yes) 'Millennium', which suggest that our 21st century consumer paradise might not be such a groovy place after all. Songs like 'Nothing's Feeling New', which namechecks Hard Candy nail varnish and Virgin PEPs and CNN - but hey, Saffy, don't let your paymasters hear that line, "fizzy drinks rot your brain". Cheeky! Shopping-list songs which plug Mortal Kombat 2 and Hdagen Dazs ice-cream, but spell them wrongly on the lyric sheet! Punk rokk or wot?
Republica are charmingly naff when they sound like vintage new wavers such as The Photos, as in 'From Rush Hour With Love', or like T'Pau on the radio-friendly anthem 'Try Everything'. But any genuinely progressive or even just mildly hummable ditties are vastly outnumbered by gratingly duff future-schlock stinkers which only Pepsi executives could ever consider exciting.
In the future, there will be no tunes.
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