Royal Republic: Weekend Man

Swedish upstarts fine-tune their garage-punk racket for energetic third album.

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So what is it with Sweden and punky garage bands? There seems to be an inexhaustible supply of sharp-dressed men honing their chops and looking to follow in the footsteps of The Hives. The latest bunch of revved-up pop tyros staking their claim are Royal Republic, who have sharpened up their act on third album, Weekend Man.

Ironically they first flung open their garage doors in 2010, just as some of their predecessors – notably The Hellacopters, the (International) Noise Conspiracy and Backyard Babies – were faltering. But this has not appeared to faze them. The quartet acquired their musical skills and discipline at the Malmö Academy Of Music and since then they’ve learnt how to break the rules with maximum effect.

They’ve tightened up their formula – tumbling drums, slashing guitar chords, thrashing guitar rhythms, in-your-face vocals and catchy choruses – to the point where most of the 13 tracks here clock in at under three minutes.

The result is that each song becomes its own intense blitzkrieg of sound, awash with as many hooks and melodies as they can cram in. This gives Weekend Man its own momentum, enhanced by subtle variations in pace from song to song.

So the frantic, opening Here I Come (There You Go) gives way to the steadier Walk! before the flurry of punches continues with When I See You Dance With Another. Later on, they take a few liberties, loosening up on the Strokes-like Follow The Sun and the 80s retro of Any Given Sunday, taking the opportunity to add some fresh tweaks.

Singer Adam Grahn uses his voice as a wagging finger, making sure your attention doesn’t wander. He also has a supply of intriguing one-liners – like ‘I’m not a hippy/I just get stoned’ at the beginning of the album’s title track – that keep you listening if only to find out what he’s on about.

But if you’re pushing the lyrical boundaries you’re also taking risks and Royal Republic already have form in this area. ‘I can see your underwear from down here’, on their first album, caused some politically correct tut-tutting (mostly outside Sweden) and this time around the controlling and possessive behaviour described on When I See You Dance With Another could again attract the attentions of the professionally outraged.

It’s hard to see what more Royal Republic could have done with Weekend Man without spoiling its energy and bravado. It remains to be seen how much of an appetite the public still has for vigorous garage pop. If they go for it, expect The Knack to re-form.


Classic Rock 221: New Albums

Hugh Fielder

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.