...Sticking a smile on your face and a shuffle in your step.
Chris Long 2007
Oddly, when Mint Royale get mentioned to most people, there’s often blank looks. Yet, considering they’ve soundtracked blockbusters and massive TV ad campaigns, the reality is you know a lot more of their tracks than you think.
Remember Gene Kelly body-popping round a soggy motor? That was them. What about the track that Tom Cruise rushed about to in Vanilla Sky? Yes, you guessed it. Oh yeah, and Terrorvision’s remixed smash, ''Tequila''? Guilty as charged.
Pop Is…, a retrospective of their career so far, is a chance to bring all those tracks together and realise just how much fun the band are. Around a decade ago, they set out on a mission to keep dance music exciting and there’s little doubt that from the oldest track here, the spangly joy of ''Don’t Falter'', featuring a post-Kenickie, pre-TV presenter Lauren Laverne, to the newest, a typically mental smash-down and build-up of 80s favourite ''Wham! Rap'' by the name of ''Wham! Bar'', that’s exactly what they’ve done.
For all their own work, though, their brilliance has been in their choice of collaborators. Take the rocking undertones of ''Sexiest Man In Jamaica'', the hip-hopping splendour of ''Show Me'' or the emotional pathos of ''Dancehall Places''. None of them would have had the impact without the respective inputs of Prince Buster, De La Soul’s Pos or Damien Jurado.
In an ego-busting move, they also include two remixes here, highlighting their happiness to share the spotlight, and while the aforementioned ''Tequila'' is an ever-enjoyable bounce around, it’s the swirling slow waltz they stick on the Stone Roses’ ''Elephant Stone'' that really shows off their ability to twist someone else’s genius into their own.
A ‘best of’ can often be a full-stop for a band, a farewell to the world. Instead, Pop Is… is a farewell to all that, to being the faceless producers of great tracks, the unknown remixers and, for band stalwart Neil Claxton, a final goodbye to ex-Royale partner Chris Baker.
The future is always an undiscovered country. One thing’s for certain though. In some guise or other, Claxton will be in it, sticking a smile on your face and a shuffle in your step.