The difficult second album – have Royal Blood cracked it?

The success of Royal Blood’s self-titled debut album was astounding and every bit deserved. This Brighton 2-piece managed to find a way to infiltrate the mainstream with their balls-out rock and roll, huge riffs and crashing drums – a dynamic that is criminally alien within the charts today. When Royal Blood stormed in at number one it was a true breath of fresh air.

Hits such as Little Monster, Figure It Out and Out of The Black impressed widespread audiences with the seamless combination of punchy basslines, sauntering drums and the powerful-yet-quivering vocals of Matt Kerr. However, after the initial excitement of Royal Blood bursting onto the scene died down, so did the attention to their music. Upon its release, I found myself listening to their debut countless times – I was hooked. Now, I barely touch it, save for a few of the aforementioned standout tracks. As I see it, the issue lied deep rooted in the actual songwriting – each track on the album featured the same shtick that grew stale relatively quickly. The songs were cool, but many didn’t offer much variation for the songs surrounding it.

As a result of this, I’m apprehensive regarding the release of Royal Blood’s sophomoric effort (recently revealed to be titled How Did We Get So Dark?, which is set for a full release on 16th June 2017) after all, at face value – the primitive dynamic of a bass guitar, drums and one vocalist is potentially very limiting. Royal Blood eased my concerns by premiering their brand-new track Lights Out a couple of days ago.

Opening with the trademark fuzz and thump of Kerr’s bass – the verse is very typical of Royal Blood’s previous outputs. Then, in the pre-chorus, listeners are treated to ominous falsetto backing vocals that are reminiscent of fellow British rock pioneers – Muse. The additional tracking of backing vocals works wonders here for Royal Blood as the audience are treated to a further texture that had previously been missing from the band’s sound, it is a tremendous display of maturity from the band and truly demonstrates how they have grown as an outfit.

The chorus absolutely soars into the listener’s ears – once again, complimented by the intuitive backing vocals. Kerr’s vocals have certainly improved – you can hear a swaggering arrogance in the frontman (whether you like it or not) which serves to illustrate the degree of confident with which they are tackling their forthcoming obstacles as they make their way through their career.

The song peaks during the post-chorus refrains and the breakdown of the track. It is during these moments where Kerr and Ben Thatcher (drums) truly come together and erupt – it is during these moments that Royal Blood excel. The riff that follows the chorus is a cascading-dive-bomb of brilliance and the wah-wah bass solo is an innovative homage to rock and roll of the past.

Lights Out is a great song – it will certainly hold a presence in my ears for a fair while, and hopefully yours too. You should definitely check this track out (the video is shit-hot too). I’m very much looking forward to How Did We Get So Dark? and hopefully, Lights Out is just a teaser of what more Royal Blood can offer us in the coming months.

4.5/5 Bytes.

Aaron Jackson.

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