The Melbourne quintet deliver an ass-kicking, speaker-obliterating slice of power pop on their incredibly fun debut album
Sometimes a band hits you like a punch in the dark. Romero are such a band. The Aussie quintet seem to have assembled under the radar, right up until they delivered Turn It On! last Friday, an album that created enough instant buzz for tastemakers like Stereogum and Pitchfork to respond with rave reviews.
Turn It On doesn’t so much begin as launch itself at you, guitars slicing the doors open, Alanna Oliver’s voice smashing the windows and red-lining your speakers into oblivion. There’s nowhere to hide. It’s going to drag you onto the dance floor whether you want to or not.
This is power pop with an emphasis on the power. If there are two camps within the genre – headphones on the bedroom floor (Big Star, Teenage Fanclub) or blasted from the speakers of a jock’s El Camino (Cheap Trick, Badfinger) – Romero are very much the latter. It’s the sound of acid wash skinny jeans and Adidas hi-tops.
The band’s not-so secret weapon is the huge voice of Alanna Oliver. A former singer in a Blues Brothers tribute band, she turns Romero into The Buzzcocks fronted by Debbie Harry. Former tourmates Sheer Mag are an appropriate touchpoint, as are much-missed soulful Sydney punks Royal Headache and the eternally fun White Reaper.
Turn It On!’s front stretch is a non-stop blast of noisy hooks, opener ‘Talk About It’ and the title track standing out. It’s at the mid-point where Romero sit back a bit and stretch themselves on the superb souped up groove of ‘Halfway Out The Door’. It’s followed by ‘Troublemaker’, a blast of catchiness that practically puts your sunglasses on for you.
Turn It On! doesn’t reinvent any wheels but it doesn’t have to. It’s a simple reminder of how much fun rock music can be when it’s played incredibly loud. Do just that and this could be the perfect soundtrack for the summer.