The Ramona Flowers Part Time Spies

The Ramona Flowers – Part Time Spies (Distiller Music)

Bristol five piece The Ramona Flowers have, I believe, a truly dreadful name. There, I’ve said it. Anyone who takes their cue from the Scott Pilgrim comics is either an unwholesome nerd or self-depreciating genius. Possibly both. Either way, their second outing, Part Time Spies, better cut the mustard or else words will be had. Their 2014 debut Dismantle and Rebuild caused a degree of consternation in some circles, many critics choosing to chastise them for wanting to become the Radiohead for the noughties generation. A touch harsh I thought and yet, the same voices are already queuing up to tip The Ramona Flowers into the garden waste recycling bin. But why?

‘Dirty World’ is a stonking slab of Eighties synth memorabilia, all urgent keyboards  coupled with the occasional falsetto vocals of frontman Steve Bird which builds into a crescendo Muse will be smugly plagiarizing any day now. “There’s a wolf/that lives inside of me” is one of the more sane lyrics which indicates the band never took heed from the old woman who swallowed a fly. As an album opener, this displays a more direct and hubristic portfolio than anything even Donald Trump has conjured up. Conversely, ‘Skies Turn Gold’ is as smooth as a Cadbury’s Caramel bar and twice as sweet. This is probably where The Ramona Flowers begin to frustrate their detractors, wandering effortlessly from the psuedo-synth pomp of 1983 in the opening track to the modern electronical conjugation of Metronomy and Everything Everything by track two. There’s a lot to take in.

‘Start To Rust‘ is Bastille with a bagful of viagra,  a ballsy attempt to make sense of a seemingly doomed relationship as a pained Bird implores “is this what it’s come to/we’re like strangers in a waiting room”. If it’s anything like my doctors surgery then things must really have hit rock bottom. The pained holler of “when did we start to rust?” is genuinely heartfelt…the answer of course being when iron is exposed to oxygen and moisture. The title track is a glistening peek into what the future would have looked like had The Thompson Twins matured and given up being a cartoon parody of themselves.

‘Run Like Lola’ demonstrates their cine literacy and the track is as unrelenting as the Tom Tykwer film, it is the perfect soundtrack, just 15 years too late. However, for all their willingness to create a zesty, frenetic pop masterpiece there is the occasional descent into the dark side. ‘My Weirdo’ is a palate cleanser, a James Blake series of beeps underpinning the sound of Bird trying on tight trousers, it’s a little…well…weird, unsurprisingly. By way of contrast, ‘Sharks’ starts out as Coldplay circa Parachutes and finishes somewhere to the left of White Lies.

This, I believe, is where The Ramona Flowers have jettisoned a few of their critical friends. The band come across as being betwixt two stools, are they the reincarnation of 80s Depeche Mode or do they want to be fist-pumping, anthemic stadium rockers. Personally, I couldn’t give a monkeys either way, there’s plenty on Part Time Spies to keep me entertained whilst they decide on which fork in the road they wish to take next. Just one minor quibble though lads, can we please discuss the album artwork over a glass Kia Ora one day?

Part Time Spies is released on Sept 9th on Distiller Music

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.