One of the most exciting releases of 2014 so far has definitely been the debut LP from the duo that’s caused no end of buzz since the beginning of the year, Royal Blood. When they first released debut single ‘Out Of The Black’ everyone and their dog began to fall in love with them and by the time they’d followed that up by releasing ‘Come On Over’ and ‘Little Monster’ everyone was pretty much Royal Blood obsessed. Nobody can be blamed either, as how often do a brand new band turn up out of nowhere and showcase rock ‘n’ roll with the level of energy, raw power and most importantly talent like they’ve got. Royal Blood is composed of just two guys, Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher. With Kerr on bass guitar and vocals, and Thatcher manning the drums, your first thoughts upon experiencing their sound goes a bit like this…. “HOW THE FUCK ARE THEY DOING THAT, WITH ONE BASS AND A DRUM KIT”. Rightfully so as well, as you’d quite happily suggest another one or two session players being involved, but no, they’re creating that sound all by themselves and they’re producing that sound with more grit than Iggy Pop driving a council gritter in February.
So with all that said; with a lot of build up, radio exposure and a growing and excited fan following, surely the album can’t fail to impress, and will surely be one of the biggest records of the year? Well yes, that is pretty much exactly what’s happened, and amazingly enough they’ve been nominated for the 2014 Mercury prize, and the nomination was announced no more than around two or three weeks following. Impressive, right? Or was this always planned? Was the hype enough to win them a nomination without the finished product even being given a chance? I don’t bloody know, who do I look like, Poirot?! Anyway, back to the point. I’ll assume since you’re reading this you’re interested to hear Mojo20’s opinion and overall assessment of Royal Blood’s debut, self titled album. So here it is…. yeah, it’s good yeah. I mean, I absolutely love the band, I love their sound and I’ve been just as obsessed with every song they’ve released since first hearing of them. But I have to admit, the album didn’t blow me away. It was more of the same, and again, that’s not a bad thing because what they’re doing is great. But I didn’t buy the album, give it its first run through, and come away having learnt anymore about them, or having heard something I didn’t already feel as though I’d heard. In fact, I’d purchased the first three singles and had already heard ‘Figure It Out’ played on the radio, but after listening to the album in full, I kind of just went back and listened to ‘Figure It Out’ a few more times… and then ‘Little Monster’ for a bit.
There are literally no negatives to point out, I just wish I’d have discovered something that grabbed my full attention and made me say “wow, I didn’t expect that”. Looking at the positives though, it’s garage rock at a very high standard and if you want no holds barred riffs and some of the catchiest hooks written in years, then you need this album. As mentioned, the stand out tracks on the album are probably the ones that have already been released, but there is plenty more to get stuck into. ‘Careless’ is a high point as well, and actually grows more and more as a favourite every time I hear it. ‘Loose Change’ is another winner as well, and begins as one of the slower tracks until it builds up to a tempo not unlike the rest of the album, but it’s one of the more interesting tracks, as you find yourself wanting to see where it goes and which direction it heads in. Each track has that bluesy edge and on some of the tracks comparisons can be made to other bands and artists such as Jack White, Wolfmother and Band of Skulls.
But as I said before, there are no real negatives, and as a debut release, it’s brilliant. Especially impressive since they only formed in 2013, and in this short amount of time have become a massive name in the British music scene. They’ve been one of the huge stand out acts at festivals all year, and I for one wish I could have seen them. The album tour begins relatively soon, and of course a number of the Mojo20 collective attempted to get tickets but when they sold out in under a minute, we really didn’t stand a chance. Still, I’d love to see them perform soon, and I remain a fan, even if the album didn’t overly excite me once it finally arrived. As far as the Mercury prize goes, I’d prefer to see Bombay Bicycle Club take it, but I’ll be happy to see a brand new up and coming band like Royal Blood get some recognition early on too. I guess my only worry is that they’ve shot in so quick and gone so far already, will a second album be pressured out of them, and by 2016 we’ll all be saying “what happened to Royal Blood…. and Wolfmother for that matter”.
Words by Stuart Green (@mojo20_music)