photo & text by nacrowe
i remember back in the late 1990s during my sophomore year when i was involved with my high school's radio station that the the two girls before my show, who were absolutely INTIMIDATING ass-kicking PUNK ROCKERS that played everything from CRASS and M.D.C. to CRO-MAGS, G.B.H. and D.O.A. on their show would end every set inexplicably with BRITISH ALTERNATIVE ROCK band REPUBLICA's "READY TO GO" single. that ICONIC HIGH-ENERGY track from their self-titled debut REPUBLICA (RCA, 1996) album made little to no sense as a closing track to a set made up of 80s HARDCORE songs, other than it being HARD-DRIVING and sonically EMPOWERING. its the type of song that makes you want to run through a brick wall, which i guess one could say the same about quality PUNK ROCK as well.
fronted by the ENIGMATIC vocalist SAFFRON, whose accent i have never been able to pinpoint with any specificity, REPUBLICA has a sound that feels very of the moment in the mid-1990s when electronic acts like DAFT PUNK, THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS, THE PRODIGY, THE CRYSTAL METHOD, FATBOY SLIM, BASEMENT JAXX and MOBY became PROMINENT and EMERGING ALTERNATIVE ROCK bands attempted to split the difference with the COMPELLING hybrid likes of SNEAKER PIMPS and GARBAGE. with "READY TO GO" the band landed on a POWERFUL sound that has been utilized in car commercials ever since as a shorthand code for YOUNG, URBAN and SOPHISTICATED. other singles from the album "BLOKE" and "DROP DEAD GORGEOUS" are SERVICEABLE but lack the live wire ENERGY and INCREDIBLE sense of FORWARD PROPULSION that marks REPUBLICA's TRANSCENDENT, CELEBRATED single.
and that is kind of unfortunate in retrospect, because REPUBLICA is very much an ANONYMOUS ONE-HIT WONDER with a UBIQUITOUS single that has far outshined the group in the popular consciousness. in comparing their work to GARBAGE's first record, their just seems to be more EMOTIVE weight and lyrical heft to relate to from SHIRLEY MANSON's odes to fear and insecurity that mark their debut. SAFFRON in comparison is a bit of an INSCRUTABLE cypher who fronted a track that could very easily be dismissed as an almost-dance track. same thing with singer KELLI ALI and her work with the SNEAKER PIMPS. there is a there there and with REPUBLICA that sense of INTIMACY never projected itself on an audience. at least how i understand it. in short: INCREDIBLE single, LACKLUSTER record.
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