Toronto electronic trio Dragonette’s fourth album, Royal Blues, is a pop album steeped in synths and modern New Wave sounds.
Lead singer, Martina Sorbara, makes her presence felt immediately and adds a face to all the happy technology of Royal Blues.
Just to be clear, there ain’t nothin’ bluesy here. Dragonette’s sound has about as much in common with the genre as does the poet Lord Byron, who coined the “blues” term in a poem written around 1820. He wasn’t referring to Lightnin’ Hopkins.
Royal Blues is sonically akin to the recent wave of Scandinavian pop music with the emphasis on keyboard driven hooks against synth textures.
All this airiness is due to a shared affinity for adventurism and art pop that finds a home in Nordic hearts.
The electronic bedrock of Dragonette is more dreamy than thumpy, but it will still find an audience on the dance floor (Body 2 Body, Save My Neck). The trio takes their sound to the back of beyond of electronica to the ultra bright bubble gum era of pop music (The Archies, Aqua, The Spice Girls) on tracks such as Lonely Heart, which has a derailing effect early on. The song is juvenile and frivolous but well crafted and catchy. It’s Barbie doll music reminiscent of ‘80s’ Swedish duo Roxette. It won’t work for nocturnal drives down the highway.
A lot of the material on Royal Blue has a dated sound that has enough appeal to be resurrected and tweaked but they move beyond that. There’s a set of songs appearing midway through the album beginning with the anthemic Secret Stash that reach into the futuristic sound that electro rock was founded on.
It’s inventive, emotive and affected – a smartly organized set of sounds and songs.
– Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who reviews the latest music for The Morning Star every Friday.