There’s an old showbiz adage of always leave them wanting more. Obviously no-one has passed this onto Republic Of Loose, a band who have more in common with the old stagers then you might initially assume. After a fifteen track debut and a seventeen track follow up comes a third record, handily filling the sixteen song gap. That’s forty eight album tracks so far, plus B-sides and the like. You’d think that somewhere along the way something would have to give and, while it has in the past, Vol IV…. is their most complete work to date. That’s not to say that it’s not another sprawling, messy epic – just a sprawling, messy epic with a bit of focus. As ever, the band are delving into influences that no other Irish band are even contemplating – old school soul, new school r&b and timeless funk. That it all comes out sounding the most natural thing in the world is testament to the depth to which they’ve immersed themselves in all this.
Where this could have sounded like some dreadful tribute band, Republic of Loose have managed to sound like nothing other than themselves. It’s that sound that has divided opinion so dramatically (along with their own, slightly prickly, persona) and the album offers little to change either opinion. To receptive ears, though, it’s fantastic. ‘I Like Music’ adds further to the argument that RoL are one of the best exponents of the single in the country today, as does the forthcoming follow up ‘The Steady Song’. A rake of guests spots add to the fun, from the succession of female vocalists who help lighten the tone (ex-Chicks Isabel Reyes-Feeney and Anne Tierney, Sinead O’Connor) to Roots collaborator Styles P.
As ever, though, the band simply try and do too much in one go to totally succeed. A handy six tracks could easily have been shaved from the final running order, not least the crass ‘I.R.I.I.S.H.’ and shaky opening pairing of ‘Got’ and ‘Poquito’. Ultimately, though, it’s this desire to overachieve where others are happy to merely make do that makes them such a treasure. They haven’t reached perfection yet, and you sense that they will always find a way not to, but watching Republic Of Loose continue to try in their own mad, illogical manner is just part of the fun.