From unavoidable to invisible in the blink of Britpop’s eye, at least no-one could fault [a]Tiger[/a] for effort as they attempted to seize and define their moment. Two-and-a-half years since ‘We Are Puppets’ failed to impinge its surrealist yelpings upon a mass consciousness, the controversially coiffured quartet return, unrepentant.
Though sprucer and more texturally diverse, ‘Rosaria’ reveals no fundamental shifts in musical philosophy, other than the fact of Dan Laidler occasionally crooning like a ‘Lodger’-period Bowie. Part free association, part nonsense poetry and always on the murky side of opaque, Dan’s lyrical domain remains a largely foreign country, yet when Tiger’s post-teenage rampage cleaves to the bone the words blur like spokes on a wheel into the song’s irresistible momentum. ‘I Was A Rolling Stone’ and ‘Soho Soul’ are near-perfect synthetic pop blasts, Stereolab had they gone to the pub instead of the lab, the former featuring a most commendably shameless facsimile of the intro to Roxy Music’s ‘Virginia Plain’.
When [a]Tiger[/a] can, then, [a]Tiger[/a] vehemently does. Yet the impulse to throw their toys out of the pram proves irresistible, and ‘Rosaria’ is an LP bedevilled by inconsistency. During the annoying ersatz nursery rhyme ‘Candy And Andy’ (“I’m in love with Schubert/He sure likes sherbert”) a [a]Tiger[/a] femme pipes: “‘e makes it up”. ‘Girl From The Petrol Station’, meanwhile, trots out some appalling sub-Kula Shaker raga twaddle for no
obvious reason beyond Dan mentioning [I]”Mandalay”[/I].
Overlong at 50 minutes, ‘Rosaria’ proves that though Tiger still have the scent of magic on their paws, it is all too possible to try too hard.