Here’s the thing. Royal Blood aren’t a revelation. They’re not the first duo to adopt the approach of making a racket in a room together as their musical foundation. Their recent string of triumphant festival appearances and a number debut 1 album suggests that, original or not, it’s an approach that’s working for them. It’s a bit of a shame that it isn’t working consistently.
There’s no denying that Royal Blood have some incredible singles. “Out of the Black”, “Little Monster” and “Careless” are hook ridden and insistently catchy. The band’s song-writing is admirably direct and accessible. The riff is king on this record. There’s occasional interesting twists and turns, but at the end of the day the focus is always brought back to that initial riff. Which is no bad thing, because those riffs are the real strength of this band, and it would seem absurd to judge the band badly for playing to their strengths.
It does mean that some of the tracks here are pretty interchangeable. Had the strongest tracks from this record been released as an EP it’s certain that it would have been hailed as incredibly fun debut release. Presented with an album worth of material like this…it’s difficult to see where Royal Blood are going to take things in the future.
That being said, its hard not be infected with the buzz that surround the band. Their root one approach is counter intuitive to the water downed version of rock music that tends to bother the higher end of the charts in the UK. Royal Blood have lucked into in a niche that sits somewhere between the hook laden catalogue of later day Biffy Clyro and the fuzzed up grooves that used to define Muse before they became an advert for self-indulgence. Ultimately though, buzz will not make up for repetitive song-writing.
Roy Blood aren’t filling a void, there’s no shortage of excellent power duos in the UK and nor is there a shortage of artists with some excellent riffs, but they are enjoying something of a perfect storm just now. Which is no bad thing for rock music in the UK. Royal Blood may be the gateway band for a new generation of rock fans, and they could certainly choose a worse place to start.
“Royal Blood” is out now digitally and physically via Black Mammoth Records/Warner Music.