bombayroyale

We have to start with that album title, don’t we? Is it a musical tribute to a Bond villain’s lair? Is it an old-school video game, or perhaps a new venue for Fatboy Slim’s now defunct beach parties? The Bombay Royale are as bold and theatrical as the album’s name suggests, and this is their second collection of songs. ‘The Island of Dr Electrico’  opens with the searing, squealing guitar riff of ‘Ankhiyan’, and the uninitiated – who aren’t aware that The Bombay Royale are an eleven-piece, Melbourne-based outfit with a Bollywood bent – might think they’re in for a Led Zep-esque, eastern tinged trundle down memory lane. Then the electro beat drops, and the Bollywood vocals kick in, and it becomes clear this record is going to be no run of the mill affair. It’s a thrilling, intriguing opening track, a genuine shock to the senses, in which high-adrenaline, rapid beats and crazy hooks combine to drag you under.

It’s an apt introduction to an almost crazily diverse set of songs; this is an album which, refreshingly, manages to surprise at every turn. ‘(Give Me Back)’ My Bunty Bunty’ is a vaguely psychedelic swirl with playful boy/girl vocals; then there’s the gentle, sultry drama of the brass-tinged ‘Hooghly Night Patrol’, and the beautiful ballad ‘Gyara 59’. Throughout the record, Parvyn Kaur Singh and Shourov “The Tiger” Bhattacharya’s vocals play off each other, intertwine, or (more often) stand alone; a thread of story-telling drama runs through the album, and theirs are the voices telling the tale.

The Bombay Royale are described as ‘world-conquering originators of Bollywood-inspired surf, spy, disco and funk’, which smacks very slightly of the Flight of the Conchords tag “the fourth most popular comedy-funk duo in New Zealand”. But this is really no joke. ‘The Island of Dr Electro’ is a superbly written, highly polished, insanely listenable sonic menagerie.

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