Advertised as “Russian Turbo Polka from Vienna”, Russkaja’s unusual brand of music had passed me by until now.
They cannot be serious? Actually, I don’t think they are. The opener “Hey Road” is a jolly mix of ska and mariachi, or as they put it turbo polka. The heavily accented singer leads the light-hearted, rousing song. Pass the vodka. The party continues with “Alive”. Electro beats and Russian chants add to the festival. This can’t be accused of being downbeat. A reggae beat and voice sampling now enter “Still in Love”. Unusual it is, and so it is commercial. I’m not sure who this is supposed to appeal to, as it’s not for the mainstream pop lover, yet in spite of its clever arrangements, it’s not overtly serious and the three minute songs are over with very quickly. I guess you’d put this on at a party and surprise everyone with it. It would certainly uplift the place. The madcap “Hello Japan” keeps up the tempo. There’s kind of similarity to Diablo Swing Orchestra, but while the level of vivacity is the same, as a musical experience there’s less depth here. But I think it’s important not to get too serious about it.
The international nature of “Kosmopoliturbo” appears through on “Volle Kraft Voraus”, a swing number sung in German with a Russian drinking chorus. “Mare Mare” is Italian in style, but with the trumpet and fiddle to accompany it. The cheesy chorus and oompah-oompah give it a decidedly Eurovision quality. “Cheburaska” is a rock romp with a frantic Eastern European chorus. Each song seems to pay homage to a different part of Europe, all while rumbling along jollily. Ska returns with “Chef de Cuisine”. The album ends with a mashed up sing-a-long ballad “Send You an Angel”, not obvious territory for the harsh-toned vocalist.
For sure “Kosmopoliturbo” has entertainment value, and as a novelty collection knocks spots off Joe Dolce and stands in front of that transvestite Ukrainian Eurovision entry. That’s not saying much however. This selection of upbeat polka pop songs is fun but not taxing. Each one is a variation on a similar theme. This might be better live, but I suspect even then it might be the manic actions of the band, which provides the spark rather than the music itself, which has energy and originality in its way but did not make a deep impression on me at any rate.
(5/10 Andrew Doherty)