Monarchy

Monarchy

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Shrouded in mystery, enigmatic Australian dance-pop duo Monarchy were rumored to be the alias of everyone from hotshot producer Stuart Price to Hot Chip when they burst onto the scene, wearing mummified face masks, in early 2010. Later revealed as virtual unknowns Edward Nigma (vocals) and Peter Uzzle (production), the reality may have been a little less exciting than the speculation, but their debut album, Around the Sun, is more than worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as their more famous counterparts. Indeed, it's not difficult to see why the former Les Rythmes Digitales maverick's name in particular was bandied about, as several of its 12 tracks could have been lifted from his sessions with the Killers (the bass-driven new wave funk of "Jealous Guy"), Kylie Minogue (the slinky synth pop of "Love Get Out of My Way"), and Scissor Sisters (the falsetto glam-disco of "Call"). But elsewhere, Monarchy's sophisticated attack on the dancefloor has more in common with the melodramatic '80s-inspired electro of Hurts, as evident on the orchestral opener "Black, the Colour of My Heart," the Chris Isaak-esque yearning melodies and Italo-house riffs of "I Won't Let Go," and the spacy synths and warm layered harmonies of "Gold in the Fire." However, Around the Sun is less convincing when it strays from its nu-synth leanings. "You Don't Want to Dance with Me" is an out-of-place fusion of clattering R&B beats and warped basslines, the title track is an aimless and pointless slice of space-age ambience, and melancholic closer "Travelling by Ambulance" is a formulaic attempt to produce a Snow Patrol-style "lighters in the air" pop/rock ballad. Arriving a year after its original release date (due to the duo's premature dumping from Mercury), Around the Sun may have lost some of the momentum gained from their intriguing "guess who" anonymous profile. But when it plays to its strengths, it's a classy piece of glossy electro-pop that should ensure everyone knows who they are next time round.

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