April 12, 2006 7:40 PM   Subscribe

Answer to one of the most frequently unasked questions— What is Romo? Romo (Romantic Modernism) was an early '90s pop "movement" in England that Melody Maker claimed was going to save music, mostly from Oasis. How? Well, by reviving the true British spirit— Roxy Music, Manic Street Preachers (before one of 'em wandered off never seen again) and Duran Duran's wardrobe! Due to unfortunate timing issues (like that Melody Maker didn't wait for any of the bands to actually put out any music before declaring them saviors, and that they were 10 years too early to be Fischerspooner), Romo now only rates a two-word aside in All Music's entry on New Romantics. While Romo vaguely had a "sound," that of croony Morrissey-lite synthpop often, there were hidden gems like the crunchy spiky Plastic Fantastic. Indulge your curiosity about this overlooked musical "genre" here and here (warning— Second link NSF people with aesthetic visual sense).
posted by klangklangston (33 comments total)
My girlfriend claims Orlando, one of the featured bands, to be "the worst shit ever" and that their music makes it "impossible to think, it's so bad."
posted by klangklangston at 7:41 PM on April 12, 2006

The Devil You Love is wonderful--bubblegum glam--a lot of them are great, but they're more proto-newwave revival (which has been a relatively recent thing), or neo-glam or something, i think. Glam's way overdue for it's time in the sun again--Scissor Sisters are sort-of trying, but not good enough.

Most of it is either aping 1975 or 1985, no?
posted by amberglow at 7:56 PM on April 12, 2006

if Nancy Boy had been from Brooklyn and it was 2002, they'd have been big.
posted by amberglow at 7:57 PM on April 12, 2006

Wow. This was shit when Melody Maker invented it as a non-existant movement, and it's twice as shit now we're knee deep in naff 80s revival.

Also Scissor Sisters suck.
posted by Artw at 8:00 PM on April 12, 2006

I'm glad that "neo-glam" is a word. Something about it makes me all warm and fuzzy.
posted by brundlefly at 8:05 PM on April 12, 2006

In the immortal words of Mark E. Smith:

Too much reliance on girl here
On girls here, behind every shell-actor
Snobbier Snobbier
Too much romantic here
I destroy romantics, actors,
Kill it!
Kill it!

Or something like that...
posted by mr_roboto at 8:05 PM on April 12, 2006

posted by klangklangston at 8:06 PM on April 12, 2006

*shakes slightly and uncontrollably as a result of being cold, frightened, or excited (but not in a good kind of way.)
posted by R. Mutt at 8:21 PM on April 12, 2006

Great find. No idea if the bands are good or not, but I love hidden little tributaries of music history like this.
posted by samh23 at 8:25 PM on April 12, 2006

Isn't there a 20-year rule for revivals?

Like 80s new wave coming back in the 00s? and 50s music coming back in the 70s? (look for a grunge revival in the 2010s, folks)
posted by amberglow at 8:26 PM on April 12, 2006

Still don't know where Roxy Music fits in here, exactly, but I think some of their stuff (Song for Europe, Beauty Queen, If There is Something, Dance Away, etc.) is just the stuff of romance.
posted by 1016 at 8:31 PM on April 12, 2006

Isn't there a 20-year rule for revivals?

I thought they'd been accelerating. Was looking forward to the 2030s revival in 2035...

(remember kids: Pop Will Eat Itself...)
posted by pompomtom at 8:32 PM on April 12, 2006

Grebbo revival?
posted by Artw at 8:33 PM on April 12, 2006

"Still don't know where Roxy Music fits in here,"
Plastic Fantastic were shooting for more Roxy Music, and Avalon was an obvious influence on a lot of these bands.
posted by klangklangston at 8:41 PM on April 12, 2006

Plus— Fashion.
posted by klangklangston at 8:41 PM on April 12, 2006

This is the "music" that makes me proud to be a metal dork.

My music could kick your music's ass! :P

posted by RockPaperScissors at 10:32 PM on April 12, 2006

Six-Inch Killaz? Romo? There's a small trickle of blood coming from my ear just from entertaining the notion for a moment back there. The guy who wrote this seems to have mistaken wearing makeup for new-romantic-ish/glam effect for being an actual crazed punk drag queen.

Also, for all the things wrong with Rachel Stamp (and David in particular), they're about as 'romo' as my cat.

I must admit, I missed the romo thing completely when it was in its prime, most likely thanks to my cold, irrational hatred for the music press and the fact it seems to have been a extremely brief sub-genre thing that wasn't really defined by anything more than the name and a bit of eyeliner on boys who thought wearing makeup was shocking. But it does look a lot like the link's owner has just decided loads of bands are romo because they were around at the same time (give or take five years) and sort of looked a bit like Orlando.
posted by terpsichoria at 11:37 PM on April 12, 2006

Okay, wait, he put Placebo and Queen Adreena on the list. Fire is the only solution. Sweet, sweet cleansing fire.
posted by terpsichoria at 11:39 PM on April 12, 2006

Orlando! Wow, what a blast from the past. I quite liked them at the time, Melody Maker-reading teenager that I was. It's like rifling through your record collection and finding a copy of the Birdie Song or something.
posted by greycap at 11:43 PM on April 12, 2006

Dickon, formerly from Orlando, keeps an occasionally entertaining diary (it used to be a livejournal, but it's not really a blog). He seems to be Shane MacGowan's butler these days (although he does have another band, Fosca).

I'm still waiting for the New Wave of New Wave of New Wave!
posted by featherboa at 1:55 AM on April 13, 2006

klangklangston: Despite the quality of the music described herein, this is a great post and I'm glad you put it together.

I can't decide which Hold Steady lyric to go with, so here's both of the them: "The eighties almost killed me; let’s not recall them quite so fondly" and "At least in dying you don't have to deal with new wave for a second time."
posted by Ian A.T. at 3:39 AM on April 13, 2006

He seems to be Shane MacGowan's butler these days

I assume that "butler" here is some sort of euphemism for "the guy that loads you into a shopping trolley and pushes you home at the end of the night"
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:45 AM on April 13, 2006

Dickon from Orlando is an extremely dapper gentleman, it should be noted, with impeccable musical taste.

But any list that includes both Add N To X and Kenickie as Romo is reaching a little, I think. The whole point of the bloody genre was that there were only three bands in the entire movement, with a total of seventeen fans, all of whom would then spend the next ten years hanging around at the back of Stay Beautiful complaining that it had "gone shit". If you start adding in successful bands that aren't remotely romo, it completely loses its charm.

And everything terpsichoria said. But on the plus side, no King Adora.
posted by flashboy at 5:01 AM on April 13, 2006

I always was a fan of Suede which I was assuming fit into the "Romo" catagory. On second thought, they were decidedly "neo-glam", going for David Bowie rather than Bryan Ferry.
posted by Dr-Baa at 5:45 AM on April 13, 2006

Taylor Parkes is god.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 6:16 AM on April 13, 2006

I really liked Fatal by Orlando (which isn't on that list of mp3s unfortunately). Everything else they did was awful
posted by ZippityBuddha at 6:37 AM on April 13, 2006

Maybe I should elaborate my previous statement? Well, Taylor Parkes is one of the main reasons I do what I do today - ie write about music. His articles in Melody Maker showed me that there were no limits when it comes to music journalism, that you didn't have to write dreary articles "about the songs, man, just about the songs" to make it, to get your point across.
So my friend Sarah's family are moving house, right, from Brecon or somewhere, out into wildest Wales, some deathly mountain village in the middle of nowhere, a place called Crai.
So, on the day they're moving Sarah's brother, wandering around the place, gets into a huff at the prospect of an indefinite future in this sleepy dump, spies the sign standing on the town border (one of those blank council signs that just read CRAI), walks back to the new house, gets a thick black marker pen, walks back to the sign and carefully draws an arc onto the dege of the "I", turning it neatly into a "P", for the information of motorists passing through on the way to Swansea...
Sussed? Oh, they sound a bit like The Charlatans.
That's a review! I love the man and I'm forever in his debt, one of these days I must write him a fanboyish email.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 6:47 AM on April 13, 2006


posted by poppo at 6:48 AM on April 13, 2006

Yeah the "Latest Romo bands" list is TOTALLY specious. Squarepusher? But not Aphex Twin, that would be silly. But I think a decent argument can be made for Placebo being "post-romo." Which is a genre that will never be mentioned again.

Poppo— You'd think so, wouldn't you? Until y'listen to Orlando...
posted by klangklangston at 7:17 AM on April 13, 2006

Haha, ok I've never heard them, so fair enough. In any case, that was a rude troll by me, so I must apologize to Morrisey fans.
posted by poppo at 7:30 AM on April 13, 2006

Good Christ, the list of bands is just bizarre. Unless 'Romo' actually means 'any band that has released a record since the Melody Maker coined the term Romo'. Anyway, I have the 'seminal' Romo tape that came free with Melody Maker somewhere. I shall put it on eBay and report back when I make hundreds of pounds/20p.

That's a review!

No, it's a lazy self-indulgent bit of bibble. Not to mention a straight-up 1980s Smash Hits rip-off. Not to mention an oblique rim-job for Jerry/Everret "the guy that runs England" Thackray/True.
posted by jack_mo at 8:43 AM on April 13, 2006

jack_mo: You call that criticism? Smash Hits/self-indulgent... That's music to my ears! :)
posted by soundofsuburbia at 10:06 AM on April 13, 2006

Thee Hits was never self-indulgent! I've half a mind to challenge you to a duel!

I meant to imply that Smash Hits in its prime did that sort of thing well, with wit and verve (True, too). Your man Parkes was (is he still about?) just plain rubbish at, you know, the writing.
posted by jack_mo at 9:43 AM on April 14, 2006

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