EP REVIEW: The Ramona Flowers – Dismantle

the ramona flowers dismantle ep

Written for the 405

These lot are far too cool for their name. Far and away from the geeky 8-bit videogame sensibilities of Scott Pilgrim, comic and movie – and the thrashy lo-fi garage rock of the titular character’s band – Bristolian three-piece The Ramona Flowers (named after Pilgrim’s erstwhile manic-pixie girlfriend) make electro-indie-pop that’s so glossy you shouldn’t look directly at it without sunglasses protecting your peepers – and wouldn’t look out of place in the Top 40.

With a jittery drum machine beat and tectonic plates of synth shifting across each other, opener ‘Dismantle and Rebuild’ (produced by tour mates LAMB) comes on a little like the dubstep era’s equivalent of The Postal Service – forward-minded electronica coupled with oh-so-sincere vocals, with added “wub wub” bass – but fizzles out a bit once it gets to a chorus, which thinks it’s more anthemic than it really is, or that it’s got any right to be. After bobbing along nicely for a while, it feels a little forced, trying to soar but struggling like an over-ambitious ostrich; and the refrain of “If you could see the sky / It’d be as wide as our eyes” is less Ben Gibbard poetry and more Owl City cheese.

Others have compared the vocals to the Temper Trap’s Dougy Mandagi, which is a little harsh, but the slightly-too-earnest attempt (and failure) at attempting a Big Festival Singalong Chorus is similarly excruciating to witness. The band themselves describe the track itself as being “about letting everything go for just one night, putting aside your life for a moment and being free,” but they’d have done a lot better addressing this head on, rather than dressing it up in faux-meaningful sentiment – ‘Telephone’ by Lady Gaga’s already got one up on them there.

Luckily, they fare a little better with the B-side – setting aside two perfunctory remixes of ‘Dismantle and Rebuild’, courtesy of D/R/U/G/S (who re-fit it with some straight-up dubstep bass rather than the glancing looks the original gave) and Amirali (who go for a more straight-forward house vibe), that make up the other half of this EP – ‘Modern World’, which is similarly cleanly produced but has a little more life to it. Above a funky beat and some understated piano, bass and backing vocals, the soulful voice is left to do its business without feeling like it has to carry the song amidst a rush of nervous energy to get to the chorus. When it does get there – not prematurely, and with some neat falsetto – it’s really very nice indeed. More of that and less of the other when it comes to the album (due soon!) please lads.

5.5/10

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