Mick Pyro makes a very legitimate point on Republic of Loose's 2004 debut, This Is The Tomb of the Juice. During two minute skit 'F*ck Everybody', he verbally spars with a tipsy lady accusing his band of 'wanting to be American' and quite rightly retorts with: 'I'm bombarded every-motherf*ckin-day with American sh*t, you sayin' I can't take a piece of that pie and use it in my own sh*t?'. In other words, detractors of the 'Loose will have to level a much more factual allegation if they're to provoke a reaction from the Dubliners. If 'Tomb' was an impertinent yet green-around-the-gills introduction to the Republic of Loose, the independently released follow-up, Aaagh!, is its slick, streetwise cousin who has all the answers to your questions and will pop a cap in your ass if you don't like them. If there's any justice in the world, this is the album that should see RoL make the transformation from scruffy bums to scruffy megastars. It takes their unique style - a fusion of hip-hop, rap, rock, reggae and soul - and brings it to a new plateau; one that's sleek, impeccably-produced, superbly-crafted and terrifically, inspiringly innovative. Chock-full of funky basslines, intricate riffs and enough attitude to terrify a tracksuit (new collective noun) of gurriers, Aaagh! flits from slinky r 'n' b (The Translation) to incitements of 80s synth-pop (Somebody Screamed) and Jamaican Dancehall/ragga (Na Na Na Na Na Na), while catchy retro ditty Mary Caine could quite reasonably soundtrack The Kids of Degrassi Street. Break! is like nothing they've ever done before; a throbbing latino/flamenco assault that's interspersed with both a female vocalist's shrill refrain and Pyro's sleazy riposte of 'You like it rough, right?' Indeed, Aaagh! is a sleaze-filled minefield and abounds with tales of temptresses, sexual encounters and promiscuity. The thing is, Pyro's soulful, wiseguy croon is so charmingly coarse that he just about gets away with opening lines like 'Now you're scratchin' your balls, it's 'round a quarter to three..'. His voice, evoking shades of Prince, Michael Jackson, Al Green and even Howlin' Wolf at times, has come into its own here; and with a band providing such accomplished, polished backing tracks, it's given ample opportunity to. The singles in particular leave a marked effect; the streetwise funk-pop of Comeback Girl, the old-skool soul of Shame and the sleek production of You Know It epitomise both the diversity and competence on display here. There's so much activity on Aaagh! - productionally and musically - that when the tempo/quality eventually does wane, (Parasite, The Evening), it's an inconsequential blip. Forget the lame comparisons, forget the 'wannabe-American' jibes; if there's a better Irish album released this year, I'll eat my iPod.
Review by Lauren Murphy | 09:00 | Wednesday 19th April 2006 | Album Review