Like a rabid Reverend of Realism, Mick Pyro has been preaching his mores from the pulpit ever since Republic of Loose's debut 'This Is the Tomb Of the Juice' picked the Irish music scene up by the scruff of the neck and kicked the shite out of it in 2004. At their worst, the Terenure band sounded like some sort of Commitments tribute act; at their best, you felt like they could be one of the best bands Ireland has ever seen.
And even if you've never seen Republic of Loose live, Vol IV: Johnny Pyro and the Dance of Evil makes it screamingly obvious that they're a great gigging band. These are tight, smooth, glossily-produced songs that sound like they've been lain down in a grimy LA studio from the '70s, not an affluent Dublin one. The opening couplet of Got and Poquita are two of the most accomplished tracks on display, Pyro's remarkable vocals offering up just the right amount of swaggering confidence, while the utterly convincing 23 Things I Don't Like is a taut, seamless soul track, laden with Shaft-style horns and fluid drumrolls.
On an album of sixteen tracks, however, it's inevitable that there's a dip - and it's initiated about six tracks in with the slightly cringeworthy I.R.I.I.S.H, a song that wallows in a 'f*ck you' attitude a little too long for it to be likeable. Proceedings are nonetheless redeemed with the brilliant I Like Music, however - an utterly joyful soul-drenched summer tune - while The Telephone Pt. 2 incorporates elements of both The Supremes and '..Young Soul Rebels'-era Dexy's.
Vol IV: Johnny Pyro and the Dance of Evil would undoubtedly have been more potent as a shorter album, but Republic of Loose aren't the kind of band you can tell what to do. Soul means having the tenacity to trample your own course through a scene, naturally disregarding what everyone else is doing. In that case, this lot have soul by the spadeload - and despite this album's occasional patchiness, you'd be foolish to want to change them.