While it was released only in the U.K., Republica's sophomore release Speed Ballads exhibits some remarkable growth.
Detractors always felt that the band was the commercialization of other similar groups such as Garbage, yet Republica's music has a definite pop leaning that sets them apart from some of their contemporaries.
Since Republica is more or less a studio creation -- more about "production" than being a band, really -- it's not surprising that the project employed a team of all-star producers including Alan Winstanley and the Lightning Seeds' Ian Broudie.
What resulted was a cycle of ten tracks in an album far more diverse than their debut.
While the disco-metal that ruled their first record has been pushed to the back of the mix here -- only some of the songs actually have the same pounding rhythms on the debut -- the songwriting has come exceptionally far.
It's especially noticeable on the excellent single "Try Anything," a moving power-ballad that's also awash in beats.
Other highlights include the hard-driving "From Rush Hour With Love" and the spacey "Fading of the Man.".