Today’s Pop Rescue from a fate unknown, is the 2006 second album Here Come The Drums by Australian electronic rock band Rogue Traders, including vocals from Neighbours actress Natalie Bassingthwaighte.
The album opens with the growling guitar intro of Believer, which throws in a simple beat, a sort of space-synth before Natalie hops on the microphone with some ‘hey hey hey’. I’m reminded of some kind of hybrid sound, sat somewhere between Sugababes and Garbage, leaning towards Goldfrapp and Girls Aloud. The song bounces along perfectly, setting the tone of how you might feel about the band: ‘I’m a believer!’ she sings repeatedly as synths and guitars chug away in the background. It’s a nice, bright beginning to the album.
Next is hit lead single Voodoo Child, a song that catapulted the band into the UK charts. The track brilliantly uses a very catchy interpolation from the Elvis Costello and The Attractions track Pump It Up from 1978. Sat alongside Natalie’s raucous vocals, compliment the loudness and chug of guitars, and this all works wonderfully, and energy behind the track ensures that it is fast paced, catchy as hell, and taking no prisoners. The track was rightly a UK hit, reaching #3 in the singles chart.
That leads onto an even faster track Way To Go!, which roars open with guitars and Natalie’s vocals to match. I’m reminded a little of Robots In Disguise or Shampoo in style, but it’s a fun track that will even lure a corpse to tap its foot. This was the album’s second single, but despite its catchiness, it didn’t touch the UK singles chart.
World Go ‘Round follows this, loaded with some phat synths in the intro, perhaps blending nicely in amongst the sound of contemporary Goldfrapp hits. The track holds back a bit for the verse though, where the lyrics feel sadly a bit weak. The track picks up nicely for the chorus, but it just lacks a little something.
Next up is Rescue Me, a nice contrasting warm track loaded with nice soft synth pads, strummed guitars, and Natalie really gets to show off some softer slower vocals. It allows you to see her rich warm voice for the first time so far. At times, I found myself thinking of Natalie Imbruglia. It’s a lovely surprise.
That’s followed by third single Watching You, and it’s straight in with an immediately familiar (to me, anyway) interpolation of My Sharona by The Knack. Whilst this track is fairly catchy, and Natalie’s vocals remind you of the energy of hit Voodoo Child, the song lacks substance lyrically in the verse. The song stumbled in the UK singles chart, giving them their second, and final-to-date charting track, when it reached #33.
Next, if you think someone is fiddling around with your radio, then it’s a brief 31 seconds of Change The Channel. It’s simply a collection of radio-styled samples amongst crackle.
That leads into a nicely bouncy We’re Coming Home, again with Natalie channeling some Natalie Imbruglia-esque vocals in the verse before flipping to rock star for the chorus. The track is definitely more rock leaning, and there’s some nice growling guitar throughout. The track was the album’s fourth and final single, but only in Australia.
Fashion is next, and it vocally reminds me of Spice Up Your Life by Spice Girls with the harmonious ‘aaaah’, but musically the guitar line reminds me of The Kinks hit All Day And All Of The Night. The lyrics are a bit ’80s pop throw-away, and a weaker track on the album.
That’s followed by White Lightning, which is laden with samples, as a brooding Natalie lures you through the verses. This track is mostly about the samples and the musical track rather than being a lyrical masterpiece. It definitely could be from the easy afternoon in the studio meets filler category.
Penultimate track is In Love Again, which incorporates an interpolation of the Tears For Fears track Head Over Heels. This track feels like a bit more of a synth-pop return to form after a few weaker tracks. The chugging guitars are absent, giving the song a lighter feel, but perhaps at a small expense of some of the band’s energy. The playful ‘la la la’ section reminds me of something you’d find in an Alphabeat song. The track did get issued as a radio promo, but didn’t see a full single release.
The album closes with Casting Aside, perhaps a nod towards the choice of singer – which is not Natalie, instead being keyboardist James Ash. It’s a warm strummed track that gently builds as it potters through from verse to chorus and beyond. It’s a nice little song, even if it seems a bit weird to not have either Natalie on the mic, or James’ lead vocals on more than just this sole song. It is a nice mellow ending to the album.
Over all, this album is has a lot of playful energy thanks to the roaring guitars, big synths, and the fantastic characterised vocals of Natalie Bassingthwaighte. If Voodoo Child struck a chord with you, then you’re going to find some more of that here in varying volumes, but the album is not just cloned versions of it.
Surprise mellow tracks like Rescue Me and the closing Casting Aside are great showcases for what else this band can do, but for me, the highlights remain as Voodoo Child, with Believer, Way To Go!, and Watching You as all great tracks. The album falters a little in the second half before redeeming itself towards the end, with Fashion and White Lightning feeling weaker and out of place.
Definitely worth checking this album out.
- POP RESCUE 2021 RATING: 4 / 5
- 2006 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #46
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.00 from a Wood Green, the Animals Charity shop.