Theatre Royal - We Don't Know Where We Are

by Jim Harris Rating:10 Release Date:2014-08-05

If there is a more perfectly executed, immaculate collection of pop songs released this year than Theatre Royal’s We Don’t Know Where We Are, I certainly haven’t heard it. It’s interesting that they have a song titled ‘French Riviera 1988’, as the guitar-based poppy melodies throughout this album conjure up the best of The Bluebells, Julian Cope, and Aztec Camera and have the polished brilliance of Lloyd Cole. Add some wonderful post-punk aesthetics of the acoustic sound coming out Northern California and Portland, plus literate, meaningful lyrics, and I would surmise Theatre Royal is set to take off.

Starting off with a perfect pop song, 'The Past is Always Gone', an uptempo gem which, like many of the tracks here, kicks things off with rollicking acoustic guitar joined by some surprisingly well-executed electric licks. In fact, there isn’t a musical misstep or off chord to be found on this release.

Theatre Royal invoke those alternative bands from as far back as the 60s who showed no interest in synthesizers or electronic gimmicks and instead packed indelible pop melodies around your standard guitar-bass-drum format. The music is far from sparse or minimal, however. It is often pleasantly dense and elaborate (‘What Was That Sound’, ’Here It Comes').

But perhaps the most refreshing aspect of We Don’t Know Where We Are is how non-derivative Theatre Royal sound. From song to song, they give a nod to their influences but make the song their own. They seem to unabashedly go in whatever direction the song takes them, as with
‘Running on the Spot’, which has a radio-friendly, joyous quality to it.

Theatre Royal is unabashedly a pop band, head and musical shoulders above all the rest. Each and every song on We Don’t Know Where We Are is strong, carefully-crafted pop gem. One of the best releases this year.

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