Royal Blood, Royal Blood, 2014, Warner Bros.
Out of the Black
Come On Over
Figure It Out
You Can Be So Cruel
Ten Tonne Skeleton
Mike Kerr on guitar and vocals and Ben Thatcher on drums got together as a duo in 2011. Their eponymous debut album, released three years later, entered the chart at number 1
"Out of the Black", the band’s first single is all smashing drums and cool melody. Classic riff-focused rock that sets up the entire album. Kerr’s guitar shines on the Muse-influenced "Come on Over" and the pace of the music remains heightened. "Figure it Out" is where I have to make the inevitable White Stripes comparison. I’m not sorry though because the likeness here is uncanny. "You Can Be So Cruel" is the strongest track so far, It put me in mind of both Garbage and Billy Idol. Blues-tinged "Blood Hands" is one of those songs that feels like it’s made for a stadium, not atmospheric exactly but with a feeling of epicness to it. It makes you forget that they are a duo, they sound so much like a larger group of musicians. "Little Monster" is kind of a nasty love song, it’s scuzzy and cool though and probably my album highlight. "Loose Change" has a bit of funk to it and the guitar builds up until it feels like a wall of sound. "Careless" is a dip in quality, it’s forgettable. "Ten Tonne Skeleton" is a significant improvement, reminiscent of Hard-Fi. Closer "Better Strangers" is another heavily White Stripes influenced number. A slower song than the rest of the album that points the way for the follow-up.
It’s solid, if a little bit samey overall. There are only a couple of songs that truly stand out but they are clearly a band that you need to hear live and who would be perfect at a summer festival. They are not really doing anything revolutionary to push rock music forward but the depth of sound they create is genuinely impressive and considering the lack of rock contemporaries that they were sharing the UK chart with in 2014, it’s good to see they broke through to the mainstream. Although they haven’t released anything since 2017, they remain a mainstay of the current UK rock scene.