The best-selling rock debut in three years certified Royal Blood as a UK number 1 album. Jon from Richer Sounds, Cardiff tells us what he thinks of it…
Royal Blood are generally being viewed by many as one of the breakthrough sounds of 2014, but how coherent is their initial outing?
A brief introduction to the band
Royal Blood are made up of Mike Kerr, lead vocals and bass, and Ben Thatcher, drums. They formed in 2013 after Ben picked up Mike from a working trip to Australia, performing their first show the following day. Support slots with the Arctic Monkeys and a nomination for BBC‘s Sound of 2014 pushed the duo out to a much bigger audience.
How good is the record?
The album was produced by Royal Blood and Tom Dalgety (Opeth, Turbowolf among others), and consist of 10 fast, hard-hitting songs. Due to the fact of there is only two members and the type of sound that they create, comparing them to current and past double acts is inevitable. The White Stripes, The Black Keys and Two Gallants are all names that spring to mind. However, whilst the attitude to the music is very similar to the these bands, Royal Blood have carved a mould all of their own.
On the first listen I found the album a little disappointing, in so much as it seems to be over too soon. The run time is 33 minutes, and whilst not the shortest album I’ve ever listened to, it is defiantly not one of the longest. However, on further listening I came to realise that its shortness is one of the great features of Royal Blood. The length of the album seems to add pace and energy to the experience.
I have to say there are a few tracks that really appeal to me; Loose Change, which you would swear is a Elephant era White Stripes track, and Blood Hands which gives more than a passing nod to Queens of The Stone Age.
The opening track Out Of The Black kicks the door in, shouting “This is our sound!”. Certainly not subtle, but then again that’s not what this album is all about. This is proceeded by Come On Over and Figure It Out which simply reinforce the fact that this is “in your face rock” and not an album to turn down. At this point Blood Hand is a groove-assault.
But then… You Can Be So Cruel. I find this song so bland that it seemed to pass me by on the initial play. After repeated listening it has to be said it did not improve. This pattern seems to repeat itself later on the album. This time the two offending tracks were Careless and Ten Tonne Skeleton. Again, they seemed to be missing from the first listen, and on repeated listening they left me cold and disappointed. Happily the album finished on the stronger track Better Strangers.
So would I recommend this album? That would be a solid Yes! Despite the 3 weak tracks, the other 7 make for a really enjoyable listen. I would defiantly agree that this is the strongest effort I’ve heard this year. I look forward to their future work… and live when they hopefully make their way to Cardiff (hint, hint!) – [ Editors note: Their recently announced UK tour sold out in under two minutes. Yours truly was one of those who missed out. Get in quick if you want to see them live! ]
PS. I would just like to mention a couple of things: Firstly, the album has a great mix and sounds good on a hi-fi, unlike some other recent albums that would fall within the broad “heavy rock” spectrum. Secondly, it definitely sounds at its best at louder volumes. Not ear damaging, headache inducing, neighbour angering volumes (ear health is vital in enjoying good music), just a little louder than your average affair.
Author – Jon, Cardiff store