Album Commentary: Royal Blood – Royal Blood

(video warning: blood, kidnapping, murder)

From October 2014, this eponymous album of Royal Blood is one of the few new albums that has stuck with me.  I’ve been listening to it a lot recently, in fact.  Maybe because the style is a nice blend of Jack White/The White Stripes and something a little heavier and more hard rock (like Three Days Grace).  To the point that the lead singer often sounds like Jack White, and if the track “Careless” had appeared on White’s “Lazaretto,” I would probably not have blinked.  (So, naturally, now I’m listening to “Lazaretto” instead of “Royal Blood.”  White’s voice is more mature, but, to be expected.  He’s 39, and Mike Kerr of Royal Blood is 25.)  But back to Royal Blood.

Tracklist:

  1. Out of the Black (a strong opening, with some of the heaviest sounds, I think.  The music video?  I might skip if I were you for cartoon violence.)
  2. Come On Over (musically, I think it fits very well with #1.)
  3. Figure it Out (goes into a different tone, a little more funk/blues/White Stripes style than the heavier rock of 1 and 2.  One of my favorite tracks of the album because it has more of melody, and a correspondingly intriguing music video.  I suppose I should expect a band called ROYAL BLOOD to be violent, and yet, the music videos have still surprised me.  I suppose I prefer to think violent rock music can refer to other issues, but they chose the innocent victimized girl turned murderer route.  The use of the red and blue lens is great, though.)
  4. You Can Be So Cruel (pretty much just what it says in the title, more in line with 3, but it doesn’t grab me as much, maybe because it feels a little slow).
  5. Blood Hands (This one also has a slow tempo, but the pace is used to get more power out of it.  Which you probably want in a song about having blood on your hands–it’s an accusatory tone, and the rhythm adds to the sense of betrayal and regret.  A+.)
  6. Little Monster (Another song about admitting flaws, but I think this turns it further than 5.  I should probably take the time to read through the lyrics lol, but from listening to it, I really feel that this one is that regret turned to lashing out.  Maybe not as good as 5, but thematically interesting.)
  7. Loose Change (The vocals sound more like 3, I think, but the tempo is slower and more steady.  Then it picks up– ‘Quit playing God on your telephone’ really sounds like a White Stripes lyric–but I don’t think it has as good cohesion as some of the other songs.)
  8. Careless* (Yesssss.  One-sided regret is the best regret.  ‘I wish I  cared less, but I’m afraid I don’t.  You couldn’t care less, so I guess you won’t change your mind again.’  Best song on album is the best.  The lyrics command this song and the music just compliments it, which is important to me.)
  9. Ten Tonne Skeleton (This song also has a very bizarre music video, but the song has a really nice groove–and is also really hopelessly bitter.  ‘Love has been here and gone,’ leaving destruction in its wake.  Love it.)
  10. Better Strangers (Not the strongest song to end the album, but the repetitive rhymes at the end of the slow lines give it some force.  I feel like it doesn’t come off as powerfully bitter as 5, 8, and 9, but it’s good.)

I like hard rock because sometimes you just want to belt out how angry you are at the world (catharsis = win).  I think there’s some real empowering work here.  And if you’re not in a mood to need that, the music is strong enough on its own.  I’m definitely going to be keeping track of this band for a while!

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