2005 – Columbia
Electro-Rock/ Dance-Rock/ Pop
The second album from Australian electro-rockers Rogue Traders is a throbbing twelve tracks of dance power, and the inclusion on this record of a female vocalist (Natalie Bassingthwaighte) really does boost the whole thing into a workable, catchy, little release.
Kicking with the Eurythmic’s inspired Believer we get an instant feel for the kind of updated eighties synth-pop that this record is dealing with, and I’ve got to say that it wasn’t half bad. The drums pound in the listener’s ears like a nightclub at three AM and the guitars work to provide a powerful rock backing to what is essentially an accessible techno-dance album. I would say, however, that even by the second cut on here I did start to feel like it was already starting to rehash its own material. I mean, it’s all still nice and danceable and the guitar lines still provide a solid rock base, but it just felt like I was still dancing the same dance and rocking out to the same guitar line.
I’ve also got to say that, while the addition of a full time vocalist to the group was a welcome movement, Bassingthwaighte’s singing on this record just doesn’t really hold any kind of interest. It’s not particular powerful, there’s no real emotion invested in it, and she doesn’t sound like she cares one way or the other what the record sounds like. With music trying this hard to excite me and move me on over to the dance floor I did find it a little off-putting that the vocals were just so incredibly bland.
Also, while most of the tracks on this record do work very well to get a body moving, there are included on here some tracks that fit in with the long Australian pop tradition of songs that sound like Kylie Minogue, but not quite as good. I mean, after we went through the motions of the first three tracks and got to World Go Round the whole thing sort of came to a standstill, and I spent at least two minutes of that four minute track waiting for it to end and for the band to come back with another rock number. Unfortunately, however, that awkward wallflower tune is followed directly by the slightly more Minogue inflected and hugely more tedious Rescue Me. All I’m saying is that if I want to listen to nineties techno-pop records I can do that in my own time, and I won’t be doing it with these tired clichés which sound like someone forgot to mention to the band that the 2000s had happened.
I think that really is the main problem with this record; it seems to take the most vapid parts of the eighties and nineties and just run with that, and overall it comes across as less homage and more rip-off. I mean, the retro-pop of Fashion and We’re Coming Home aren’t too terrible in themselves, but I’ve heard it before and I’ve heard it better. There’s just not a whole deal of originality on here and I just ended up wanted to search back through my record collection for those dance-pop records from yesteryear that were actually, well… interesting. I guess that Here Come The Drums just serves better as an advertisement for decent records than it does for being a decent record in itself.
This being said, there are some moments on here that do work well, and I did end up having a bit of fun with this album. White Lightning’s grinding sub-bass line, for example, was pleasantly groovy and the beats on this track did have me dancing around a bit, but inevitably I found myself again just comparing to older, better artists like Art Of Noise or Bowie’s Earthling era.
Overall I’ve got to say that Here Come The Drums is fine as a record. I can’t really find too much fault with it mainly because of the fact that all it seems to be is updated versions of tracks I liked when they first came out twenty years. Still though, it really isn’t anything that’s worth giving more than a cursory glance as there’s a lot of records out there which sound like this but much better.
And here is the track Voodoo Child which is sufficiently danceable if you like that kind of thing.
There is a special edition release of this CD that comes with a bonus disc of remixes. If you felt the need to buy the album in the first place I still wouldn’t bother with the extra fiver this will cost you. The remixes of the tracks don’t add much, they just make them sound like a different cover of that eighties song I like.