The Research - Breaking Up

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:

'It's just kitsch indie-pop', a wannabe scenester idiot once opinioned to me when I raised the brilliance of this album, shortly before I jabbed a pen lid in his eye and set fire to his regulation 'I can't believe this look still works' skinny tie. It was a hasty response, and one I now regret (ish). What I should have done was beat him at his own game by analysing his poorly chosen description and breaking it down to its component parts.

· Indie: The Research were a pretty independently minded bunch. They used a fairly untapped bass-keyboard-drums set up, augmented by three-part, honey-sweet vocal harmonies. They were also unafraid to break into ugly, garrulous noise on songs such as 'I Say Yeh Yeh' or abandon the formula completely on 'Too Young' and 'Splitting Hairs'.

· Pop: There is no denying this album belongs to a very fine pop lineage, from doo-wop to Motown, through The Beach Boys to Belle and Sebastian; that is: heartbreaking observations of the futility of love and the ephemeral relief of a daydream all put to soaring melodies, call-and-response vocals and a propulsive beat. This is what great pop is. Point of fact.

· Kitsch: On this point I could simply have shouted band names at him: the B-52s! The Rezillos! Betty Boo! Adam and the Ants! Everyone loves a bit of kitsch. Kitsch rules. Kitsch is what knobhead uses as a backing track to him sluggishly rotating his limbs down the indie disco in a vein attempt to pull the classy girl with Debbie Harry cheekbones and an actual grasp of the blinding majesty of pop.

It's a crying shame that The Research seemed unable to repeat this simple, glorious formula. To be fair to them, the world didn't seem particularly interested in hearing them do it. Upon this album's release NME, which had previously given The Research a couple of singles of the week, gave it a tepid review with an underwhelming 6/10 score. It must have been pretty dispiriting. IN 2006, NME and the rest of the clueless music press were too busy sucking up The Kaiser Chiefs and (Jesus wept!) The Pigeon Detectives. It's difficult to know why this even happened. Did they seriously think The Pigeon Detectives or the similarly gormless likes of The Fratellis, bands NME is now justifiably keen to distance itself from, were really going to produce the kind of music that would be discussed in a decade's time, let alone 12 months?

Who knows, but because of this, The Research's moment was allowed to pass quietly in the background and this album full of really beautiful, honest, funny but touching songs failed to reach a significant audience. Honestly, it's a crime. Just take a listen to the moment on 'C'mon Chameleon' when the voices of the three Research members - Russell, Sarah and Georgia (ah, sweet, maudlin Georgia!) - meld together in mutual heartache and sing "I don't want to be afraid of love/ but I'm running out of time". Listen to it and tell me they didn't deserve the world.

Best tracks: 'Lonely Hearts Still Beat the Same', 'C'mon Chameleon', 'The Way You Used to Smile'

Richard Morris

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