zaterdag 8 juli 2017

How Did We Get So Dark? Royal Blood

Can a new album be redundant? That's a fair question. A question that each and every artist has to put to him or herself before releasing it. Are there criteria for redundant albums? Officially probably not, if only because an artist has the right to release what he wants his audience to hear. Sometimes that is painful, sometimes a choque or even both. When artists released one album a year on average or even more, it happened that an album was not up to par. Nowadays that is a standard most, successful touring artist, do not even come close to. Three years is no exception and here is Royal Blood with its new, second album.

So why this long intro? The answer is simple: I've been asking myself the first question in this post several times after hearing How Did We Get So Dark? Several times. Let me work towards my answer.

Royal Blood is a gimmick band to begin with. A bassplayer and a drummer. This is beyond exceptional. The bass is a monster thanks to a host of effects and an at times ferocious way of playing. The loud rock is infused with enough melody to win over more that just rock and lighter metal fans. Someone like me for instance. Debut album 'Royal Blood' was reviewed favourably and is in the home on vinyl, although not played too often.

Come the new album simply nothing has changed. Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher come up with 10 new songs that all could have been on 'Royal Blood'. The good news is that the selection of new songs are all of roughly the same quality. The band is more experienced having travelled the world over more than once and played more than ever before. So will have grown in several ways. With the 10 new songs under their belt, major party time at shows must be guaranteed. What has changed, is that How Did We Get So Dark? simply does not have the impact 'Royal Blood' had. And that is where things go a little bit wrong. "We just did what we are good at", Royal Blood stated in several interviews. I expected at least some growth.

So in their own words Royal Blood is doing what it is good at. There's no denying there. All the songs have the power they need, the melodic quality that allows participation as well as building a relationship with the songs easily. Those are points that can't be taken away. I'm also taking into account that this is only Royal Blood's second album, an album where the band and probably the business part around them decided to consolidate and laid aside ambition. I know all to well that the music business has changed a lot, but I can't help comparing to The Beatles for one second. In the same space of time the Fab Four released 5 albums, including a significant one like 'A Hard Days Night' and were on the brink of recording major breakthroughs on 45 as well as 33RPM.

Back to How Did We Get So Dark?. Royal Blood's influences shine through abundantly. From Queens of the Stone Age to Masters of Reality and The White Stripes, little snippets come by. Strangely enough I can even here Robbie Williams peaking around the corner in 'Look Like You Now'. Mike Kerr is an a-typical rock singer. With his fairly high voice he gives Royal Blood its own distinct voice, his bass gives it its sound. In fact sets it apart from most other bands. That remains one of the extremely strong features of this band. Limitation is made into a strength.

Although I may have rambled a little on How Did We Get So Dark?, I like to end on a positive note. This is a strong album. It only has one problem: 'Royal Blood' preceded it. There are worse comments to make. The new album will take Royal Blood around the world again. Only then thoughts have to go out to album #3. Things will have to change then. In the meantime I'm enjoying what I have in front of me.


You can listen to 'Lights Out':

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