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Repomen - Priceless EP

  by John Clarkson

published: 17 / 3 / 2012

Repomen - Priceless EP
Label: Phantom Power Records
Format: CDS


Fine, but surprising punk pop-influenced latest EP from Sheffield-based band, RepoMen

Sheffield indie group RepoMen’s last EP, ‘Headlines’, was a dark, political record that caught the current turbulent world situation with its oppressive, paranoiac regimes and corrupt dictatorships exactly. Trumpeter Howard Price, the group’s “occasional fifth member”, had a large part to play in that EP, contributing enormous slabs of mournful brass. He is, however, absent from their latest record as he was apparently moving house on the days that much of it was recorded, and so we have the six-song ‘Priceless’ EP. The title alone suggests an EP that is much lighter in tone, and indeed ‘Priceless’ has several moments of surreal, almost knockabout comedy. RepoMen, who are now in their third decade together, have, however, always worked hard at trying not to repeat themselves from record to record, and ‘Priceless’, almost the polar opposite of the melancholic and reflective last EP, confirms that. The opening track, ‘Do It’, is a return to the band’s earliest roots, and is a two minute piece of scratchy Buzzcocks-style punk pop with elasticating chords and seemingly throwaway lyrics (“Jenny tends to bite off more than she chew/But what is a girl like her to do, do,do?”). The other main track, ‘Carnival Queen’, is a rollicking, cheerful-sounding number that, with its upbeat melody and oddball quirky wistfulness, is reminiscent of Blur and the Kinks (“I look into your eyes/The cinnamon skies/And it reminded I am running out of luck/And by the time I wake up you’re gone.”). Lead singer Denzil Watson gleefully chucks into the mix a kazoo solo, and guitarist and keyboardist Ric Bower and bassist Simon Tiller contribute raucous backing vocals. The group have, however, always thrown curveballs into their EPs. After two more sunny-sounding numbers - the organ-driven and Bower-sung ‘Vanity Press’ which concludes in an explosion of choral harmonies, and the acoustic deadpan strum of ‘Good Time (“I’m glad you’re feeling fine/I’m glad somebody is having a good time.”) - there is a huge one with the fifth track, an instrumental, ‘DIV III Norton’. Scorched waves of industrial synthesisers push around each other on it, until out of them rises a crescendo of drifting piano chords. It is breathtakingly, hypnotically beautiful, and, amidst all the humour and deliberate lightness of this EP, a reminder that RepoMen know how to pack a punch when they want to. The EP is then concluded with an acoustic version of ‘Do It’, which provides the perfect comedown. ‘Priceless’ is the twelfth EP from RepoMen, who also released an album in 2006, ‘Songs They Never Play On the Radio’, and last year a retrospective, ‘Occasional Sensations: A Retrospective Long Player’. It is yet another fine release from a group who have always avoided trading upon past glories.

Track Listing:-
1 Do It
2 Carnival Queen
3 Vanity Press
4 Good Time
5 Div III North
6 Do It (Again)

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Repomen - Interview
John Clarkson speaks to Denzil Watson, the front man with durable Sheffield indie act RepoMen about 'Occasional Sensations', which is a documentary film about them, and their recent album, ‘I’m Only Doing This Because I Like Your Robot’
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