Dirty Pretty Things Romance At Short Notice Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

The second offering from this band is a crisp, polished collection of tuneful japery...

Jerome Blakeney 2008

The good news first: the second offering from this band since Messrs Barat and Doherty parted company and began their quest to find the worst band names in the world is a crisp, polished collection of tuneful japery and pithy urban commentary. So what makes this vaguely disappointing overall?

The album is brim with dazzling time signature jiggery pokery, like the fairground whooze of opener, Buzzards And Crows, as well as the semi-literary allusions to old Albion on Tired Of England; though Barat's vision has on very London-centric goggles, borrowing from Samuel Johnson's old adage. His wordiness is witty and spry, but sometimes one can't help feeling that he's overcompensating for a certain missing lyricist. Not only that, but the spray of words on tracks like Truth Begins smacks too much of Alex Turner's more verbose moments. You can't help but be disappointed by a band who seem to be eclipsed by their peers. Best Face tries to weld a Battles/Vampire Weekend post/math rock to Barat's Clash-like punk rush, but while it's impressively played it falls short of a seamless whole.

On this note it's interesting to note how this album exhibits a studied competence that betrays how far they've come as a unit. Far from shambolic (or stymied by alcohol-fuelled bone breakages), at the heart of Romance At Short Notice is a cheerily efficient pop heart. Like their debut, every track sports ragged, squally tops and tails, but when things get going the chaos is revealed as being actually very together. Only on Chinese Dogs and the stubbornly dissonant Faultlines does it seem that the music matches the usual tales of dissolution and disillusion. Carl's ragged roar on Hippy's Son is also suitably bile-spewing.

Yet, a little too often the jauntiness puts you in mind of those jolly fillers that Oasis used to stick on their albums to make up the numbers. Plastic Hearts 'La-la-la's will sound great at that sweaty gig, but grate in studio-bound form. Maybe Carl and P***'s chapter in Britpop has truly passed. But it would be a shame to see a band as lithe and keen as DPT sound here wilt into obscurity. Romance At Short Notice shows them just beginning to really find a voice.

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