Verdict: 2 / 5
Royal Blood is a British garage rock duo. Their eponymous album has garnered considerable attention in the British music industry. The duo only consists of bass guitar and drums. Mike Kerr is on vocals and bass. Kerr manipulates his bass with various guitar effects to simultaneously achieve an electric and a bass guitar sound. Ben Thatcher plays drums and despite being two members they sound much larger and numerous.
The album starts with ‘Out of the Black’. A catchy hard rock track that echoes Muse, with big riffs and a singing style that mimics Matthew Bellamy. ‘Come on Over’ is another Muse-y song. The main riff sounds a bit like ‘Stockholm Syndrome’. Once the third song, ‘Figure it Out’ hits, rock fans in their late twenties and thirties will smell Muse all over Royal Blood. Not just Muse but a heavy dose of White Stripes and Queens of the Stone Age as well. For younger listeners these comparisons won’t mean much. What is surprising is that Royal Blood has managed to seep through into the mainstream; a mainstream which is so hostile towards hard rock bands.
While pleasant the album feels like it plods along after a few songs. The riffs and melodies are alright and Kerr’s voice is evocative but despite these promising aspects the band has not yet managed to create a healthy distance between themselves and their influences. Royal Blood’s sound is too close to the members’ favourite bands. The main weakness of the album and why it plods along, is that the music is too uniform. All the songs sound the same. Even though individually the songs are okay, when clumped together they become indistinguishable.
As an album Royal Blood is not bad, it shows the band has potential. Hopefully, the band won’t just be adored for being a two man rock act without guitars. Here’s wishing that their second album is more varied with stronger songs that ape not only other band’s styles but Kerr and Thatcher’s own.