Royal Blood – Sexy, Dark, and Surprising
Royal Blood is one part singer/bassist Mike Kerr, one part drummer Ben Thatcher, and one part surprising “Noise/ Garage Band Rock.” Seriously, really surprising. I gave this album a listen without knowing a thing about the band. I never saw a picture, and I merely glanced through a press release. And so, listening to the album, I thought that Royal Blood was a four or five piece band. That is how cool these guys are. They do so much with the bare minimum of drums and bass guitar with a pedal set, that they sound like a band twice their size. And that my friends is no easy feat.
Their self-titled LP will be released August 25th for digital download but can actually be streamed live on ITunes for the current week. I generally liked it. Granted hard rock isn’t my normal cup of tea, but honestly, the boys have created some really great tunes for their freshman effort.
We start with “Out of the Black,” their leading single, which has already placed well on several UK, US, and Canadian rock charts. While this was probably one of my least favorite tracks on the album, it was a good introduction into the Royal Blood world. I love Kerr’s voice. It almost harkens back to the 1970’s glam rock singers, with his range, venerability, and overall style. Kerr’s bass guitar kind of confounds me. I’ve been watching YouTube videos non-stop of him to try and see if he does indeed have a bass guitar the whole time, or if he switches to guitar for some songs. What he does with his distortion pedals to make his bass guitar sound like two instruments is sickening. Thatcher’s drumming is, in a word, fantastical. He combines a garage band grunge mentality along with some punk rock drumming licks that make for very interesting rhythms. Together the boys seem to be a melding of the decades of rock.
We scoot on over to “Come on Over,” which I found to be a bit catchier. You’ll find a bass bend right after the lyric hook, that is just delicious ear candy. On “Figure it Out,” Kerr seems to have more of a distorted sound on his vocals, which gives the song a sort of rock “Sexy Back” touch. Which brings me to the overall sexiness of Royal Blood. Maybe it’s the raw energy of Thatcher’s drumming, or the grunge dirt, or Kerr’s sexy licks both lyrically and instrumentally, but Royal Blood is dead sexy. Add some English accents and you’re done. Also, check out the official video for “Figure it Out” if you’ve got the time. Its disarming, thrilling, and fun. The video starts off in a red wash with a 20 something girl walking barefoot through the food court of a shopping mall. Everyone is running terrified from her. The screen slides to blue and you see why everyone is scared. She is covered in blood. What follows is almost a Terrentino-esque type video that fits so well with the music and is a must watch.
The boys loose me on their next two songs, which I can’t remember a lick of to save my life, until my favorite track on the album, “Little Monster.” I love when a band gives space for the lyrics to really be heard as opposed to overwhelming song with too much at one time. “Little Monster” goes from a breakdown to a rock-out quickly and seamlessly. The song also boasts my favorite lyrics by the boys, “I’ve got love on my fingers/ Lust on my tongue.” Sexy, just sexy.
The other track worth mentioning is “Loose Change.” I love the production on this song. Somehow, it sounds like Kerr’s voice is floating just behind you, jingling like “Loose Change.” It’s not gimmicky, but subtle enough to make a difference when you listen on some really good headphones. The rest of the instrumentation seems far more grounded beneath the listener, as if it’s the paper money that’s folding underneath. Really cool listen.
It’s a great listen and these boys sound like they are about to blow up. I’m waiting for their sophomore album, though. This one has all of the right ingredients, but something seems to be missing. I think in time the duo will solidify their sound and really knock everyone’s socks off.