Popular Damage - The Royal Fly EP - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Popular Damage - The Royal Fly EP

by Clare Stemp Rating:6.5 Release Date:2010-05-03

Popular Damage should probably have pondered a little longer on that name. It would apply to massacring Jeremy Clarkson's face, but little else. Aside from this, The Royal Fly is their first EP, and kudos to them initially for promoting themselves so tirelessly in the absence of a record label. Here presents a band specialising in electro remixes. Of the eight tracks showcased, they have included three original songs; outside remixes of these, and then remixes of other band's songs. It's Remix City in here. But at least we have reworkings of The XX and Zoot Woman, neither artist to be sniffed at.

Mancunian Nadine Raihani and Berliner Stephan Hengst blend upbeat electro-pop - satisfying but not outstanding within the genre - with enjoyably rousing vocals. Raihani's voice is a challenge to place at times, dipping into energetic, rebellious Justine Frischmann territory in 'Easy Money', and feeding from Hengst's Euro-techno in 'Exclusive', flitting in and out of Germanic pronunciation. 'Exclusive' is the clear winner of the EP with a breezy opening and cutesy MGMT-influenced synths, demanding more attention than the common -or-garden house feel of previous tracks. Uplifting, cheerful stuff. Double Dragon's mix of the thrice included 'Everybody Got Young' is another highlight however, well placed as the first track with a palpable immediacy. The chorus is a simple, echo-laden "Don't you, uh oh uh oh ohwooo, oh uh oh uh uh oh". Lazy? Yes. Dull? Not particularly. It again falls to the Cockney-Mancunian hybrid timbre of Raihani to rescue this from being just another crowd pleasing shout-along. It's not a perfect job though, and more could have been done to shape this into something more tempting.

So onto the remixes for others, otherwise branded as the Personal Damage Assimilations (PDAs). The XX's 'Crystalised' is first up,and the familiar, untouched guitar riff lures us in suitably. Followed by a now very well-worn rock-synth bassline (think a less bonkers 'Bonkers'). Some disjointed pauses and choppy vocal samples are launched, but the availability of only the single bassline knob to twiddle begins to grate at this juncture. And it continues into 'We Won't Break', originally Zoot Woman's work, but now with a similar one knob stamp over it. The PD duo stick far too closely to their mixing formula for the majority of this, but those with patience are lead casually into some wonderfully beefy beats which eventually prove the track worthy of existence.

There are some glimmers of real electro talent on this EP, and with a little imagination and a chunk of record company funding, Popular Damage could surely do better. They just need to be bolder with the remix requests. And get some more knobs.

Clare Stemp

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