Three years following their impressive debut and Royal Blood return with, well… more of the same really.
Royal Blood’s 2014 debut full-length effort took the mainstream by storm – obliterating all the generic, cookie-cutter pop songs that plague the charts – one colossal riff at a time. Initially, it was an immensely exciting feat to behold. However, when the novelty wore off, many tracks on the album paled slightly in comparison to the outputs of other UK bands who inhabit the neighbouring genres of that which Royal Blood practice (namely, The Xcerts’ There Is Only You and Lonely The Brave’s The Day’s War – both of which deserved more attention). The lack of longevity to the frenzy initially induced by Royal Blood was a certain cause for concern.
To you dearest readers who decided to peruse my recent review of the lead single from How Did We Get So Dark? thank you very much, however, if you didn’t catch it then feel free to check it out here: https://wavebyte.co.uk/2017/04/16/royal-blood-lights-out/. In the piece, I (attempt to) wax lyrical about Lights Out. For me, the elation had returned and the track was an evolved demonstration of every commendable element from their debut, bolstered with an assured confidence that suggested lightning might just strike twice for this Brighton duo.
This primary single was followed by Hook, Line & Sinker and I Only Lie When I Love You, both of which are, when observed individually, stellar songs that are very much enjoyable. They demonstrate the same fuzzy riffs, a sauntering-yet-punchy drum beat and the moody swagger of Mike Kerr’s vocals. But that’s the problem. When listening to Royal Blood songs back to back it becomes very difficult to discern between one track from the next, due to the similarities that carry throughout the entire discography from this outfit. One can understand the repetitive nature – Royal Blood have obviously tapped into a formula that suits them down to the ground – however, there is nothing brave about How Did We Get So Dark?.
The highlights of this album are those that superlatively exercise this aforementioned formula that Royal Blood seem so inundated with. The three singles were certainly well picked, as they are undoubtedly the best songs on offer here. Hole In Your Heart starts in a promising fashion, the plodding and piano-esque riff that carries throughout the verses is an innovative twist that gifts the track with a warped bluesy-vibe. Unfortunately, the chorus and the breakdown are wholly generic to the rest of the album – which is frankly forgettable.
I must commend this album for the flashes of brilliance that we already knew Royal Blood were capable off, and I’m sure those tracks I earlier praised will proceed to possess a position on my playlists. Despite this, I honestly expected more exploration – an adventurous second album that pushed the boundaries of a band that managed to break so many down when they invaded the charts in 2014. I can’t help but be slightly disappointed. Maybe next time…