Republic of Loose

Aaagh!

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So tantalizingly diverse is Dublin act Republic of Loose's second studio album Aaagh! that it's sometimes difficult to believe it's the work of just one group of musicians. The Loose, as they're affectionately known, are self-acknowledged Americana junkies, mining the depths of the filthiest R&B and hip-hop Stateside can offer with such energy and enthusiasm that they manage to succeed where others might only come across as patronizing. Whereas their debut disc, 2004's This Is the Tomb of the Juice tread too far on the loungey side, Aaagh! is a full-on party album. On album track "I'm Greedy," frontman Mick Pyro spits surreal,self-deprecating rhymes in the mould of Ol' Dirty Bastard, leading off with the announcement "I got a small dick, that's the way God played me/It's not my fault bitch, you're the one that made me." Amidst the madness, guitarists Dave Pyro (the Pyro brothers are, of course, not related) and Brez lock slinky, clipped funk riffs amid the tight, unrelenting rhythm section of bassist Benjamin Loose and drummer Coz Noleon. Breakthrough single "Break," a duet with Chicks vocalist Isabel Reyes-Feeney, helped establish the band overseas, piercing the Top 40 in South Africa (of all places!), and it's easy to see why. The flamenco-tinged acoustic guitar progression and infectious breakbeats underpin a slick, ultra-melodic pop track, while the lyrical theme -- in typical Loose style -- is defiantly anti-safe sex: "Burn the prophylactic sky...now tell me what you use- nothing!" Elsewhere, the Loose explore smooth, R. Kelly-styled pop-soul on singles "Comeback Girl" and "The Idiots," lush '80s pop on the vocoder-enhanced "Mary Kay," and meaty glam rock on opener "Aaagh!" They even venture into Neptunes territory with "Na Na Na Na Na" and the Timberlake-alike "Shame." A vast improvement on their debut, Aaagh! marks Republic of Loose as one of underground pop's more inventive acts: true originals.

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