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Monday, May 7, 2007

The glory that was Romo

posted by on May 7 at 14:50 PM

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Sometimes, when feeling nostalgic for New Wave synth pop of the ’80s makes me feel guilty (or too old), I switch things up… by feeling nostalgic for the New Wave synth pop of the mid-’90s. That’s right: The short lived UK fad known as Romo. While the rest of the world was busy rocking out to grunge and “new wave of new wave” bands like S*M*A*S*H and These Animal Men, a small cadre of dedicated dandies — led by DJ and writer Simon Price (above) — slapped on the ruffles and eyeliner, and sought to revive the New Romantic era under the auspices of “Romo” (short for Romantic Moderns).

Bands like Dexdexter, Viva!, Hollywood, Sexus, Plastic Fantastic, Orlando (the best of the bunch, IMO), and more came and went in the bat of a gilded eyelid; the groups with more staying power (My Life Story, the dreaded Nancyboy) tended to be acts who got lumped in with Romo, rather than pledging any allegiance to the trend. The bulk of the music was tinny crap, all pretense and no tension, but it was fun while it lasted.

For a snarky but pretty spot-on UK TV segment on Romo from back-in-the-day (with Steve Strange from Visage looking like hell), watch this YouTube clip. Want more? Check out the sights and sounds in detail at This Is Romo, or download an embarrassingly enthusiastic trend story I wrote on Romo for CMJ New Music Monthly in 1996 here.

(Hat tip to my pal Randy at Sony BMG for sending me that YouTube link.)

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What's interesting about Romo, and I've been thinking about it too much lately, is that the only reason it didn't work was that it was too soon.

With Britpop still in its last high, and grunge well-killed, it came off as hollow, with shit bands, and a top-down cultural journalist response to nothing.

But it's '80s everywhere today. The same sort of social flinch for moving music backwards, possibly even more embarrassing than anything Romo ever tried to do.

If they'd waited until now, they would've made millions.

Posted by Fawkes | May 7, 2007 10:55 PM


Posted by Bill | May 12, 2007 7:10 PM

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