Whenever I’m having an existential crisis sort of day—yes, it can come in daily doses—listening to songs like Iggy Pop’s “Success” soothes my insecurities and favors my sardonic humor that is both a coping mechanism and a genetic condition.
How fortuitous then, among the early tracks from Canadian band Royal City, is a humorously lo-fi cover of Mr. Pop’s infectious tune. Such a cynical collection of sad tunes may be easy to find; yet when has it forced me to listen with such a critical ear?
Royal City is one of those bands who just happened to release a catchy album during my stint as a college radio manager, thereby solidifying their place on any mixed tape—or CD or mp3 mix, as it has become—I made in the next five years. Known to include “Bad Luck” to throw off my dearest music snob friends, I always thought of the track as my own personal indie folk-rock one-hit wonder. A hit and a wonder if you like my mixes, I suppose.
On this collection of b-sides, you can hear the now-defunct band in raw form. This is good and bad—good if you like unpolished gems, bad if you like listenable singles. “They Came Down,” while a great track, is quite bleak in its repetition of the line, “It gets so depressing...down here.” “Postcards” is another lovely, sad song, explaining that old mementos are not necessary reminders of one man’s misery.
_I don’t need pictures of you or postcards from you
I don’t need nothing at all
To remind me I’m blue for you
My old favorite, “Bad Luck,” even makes the list, though pared down in a way I’m glad was changed for its inclusion on Alone at the Microphone.
Royal City isn’t an album of background music, which is what makes it so appealing. Try as I might, I couldn’t work with it on in the background. Turn it up or turn it off because you’re going to be distracted and fussy if you try for middle ground. Maybe you should just accept your Weltschmerz like I do. You might find you appreciate apathetic youthful misery music like I do. Your fate could be worse.