REPUBLIC OF LOOSE
at the Troubadour, November 8
Irish radio is infamously stingy with its support of homegrown acts, yet it’s spinning the hell out of the jelly-shakin’ genre soup that is Republic of Loose (whose single, “Comeback Girl,” you may have also heard about 11,000 times on Indie 103). Maybe it’s because these Dubliners sound like some multicultural American urban collective fusing four decades of hummable danceability, from James Brown to Hall & Oates to Justin Timberlake.
But then you see them: a jumble of pasty lads ’n’ lasses fronted by one Mick Pyro — a man with the beard, belligerence and vocabulary of a seasoned (if laundry-conscious) spare-changer, yet, in the glorious tradition of the Irish pub poet, emitting utterances of incongruous beauty and nuance. Republic of Loose are a jukebox of tasty influences and exquisitely cultured in their cross-pollination, but can’t be bothered with the cartoon camp of Electric Six or Gnarls Barkley’s self-aware pop-culture potpourri.
Pyro confronts a tepid midweek L.A. crowd with cajoling gusto, but between his in-yer-face antics, he ably revisits the supple/sultry croon and frequent falsetto of ROL’s superproduced sophomore album, Aaagh!, while his bandmates (eight strong in their touring incarnation) do a bang-up job of approaching that disc’s myriad layers. It never lines up better than in “Comeback Girl,” that sing-it-for-days domestic hit: glacial slices of loungy guitar; gutter-flecked lyrics griming-up saunter-to-the-bar Motown suave; and borderline War of the Worlds chorus keys. Aaagh!’s title track marries the stomping, synth-bass groove of early-’80s Peter Gabriel to the sexually ambiguous, codpiece swagger of Cameo through years-in-the-making sonic alchemy.
It ain’t all memorable, as the same ingredients — condom-required bass lines, relentlessly grin-giving beats, multiway banks of vocals, and Pyro’s chest-puffing bravado — are sliced, diced and repeated ad infinitum. But a handful of world-class tunes and a fearless figurehead coax some movement from this most jaded of audiences, falling just short of an encore. No traffic-stopping triumph, but heads held high a long way from home.