Artist – Royal Blood
Mike Kerr – Vocals/Bass/Keyboards
Ben Thatcher – Drums
Producers – Royal Blood/Josh Homme/Paul Epworth
Release Date – 30th April 2021
Label – Warner
The highly anticipated third album from one of the UK’s most popular artists is finally here, nearly four years since the release of How Did We Get So Dark? (2017). That’s a long wait between albums and in the fast paced nature of today’s music industry, almost an eternity! The good news is that it’s allowed the band time to grow and flesh out their existing sound, ensuring that we’re not receiving a carbon copy of those first two albums.
The even better news for fans of the band is that the big riffs exploding from Mike Kerr’s bass and Ben Thatcher’s pounding drum sound is still very much in the ascent. The interesting aspect this time around is how much the record feels just as at home on the dancefloor as the mosh pit. The initial reports of Royal Blood going dance may have been alarming for some but whilst not a full blooded trek into house music, they certainly have added a swaggering funk that suits them well. Clearly taking a few pointers from two Parisian electronic music giants in Daft Punk and Justice, those bands brand of huge stadium ready keyboards and synths (check out the track ‘Planisphere’ by Justice to see exactly what I mean) are scooped up by Royal Blood and seamlessly blended into their core sound. This has resulted in the album being their best produced to date, achieving a slick, modern feel whilst still retaining elements of the heaviness that got them to the level they are at in the first place.
For a band that predominantly writes songs using only bass and drums they are still not running out of ideas for riffs and tunes that have the knack of not only getting stuck in your head but also get you moving. The best track on the album, ‘Limbo’, for example, has all the elements that make this new sound a success – a great chunky groove of a riff, massive sounding drum fills and layers of keyboards coupled to a catchy vocal and really cool backing vocals that will get you singing along after (or even during) the first listen. I really liked it when I first heard it as a single and it’s only gotten better with each successive spin. Truth be told, I think that may be true of the album as a whole as whilst there are a couple of standout tracks such as ‘Limbo’, opener ‘Trouble’s Coming’, ‘Oblivion’, the Josh Homme (Queens Of The Stone Age) produced ‘Boilermaker’, the majority of the album as a whole is solid rather than absolutely blow away great. But hey, I’ll take a solid record that I want to listen to multiple times and comes in at just under 40 minutes over an paint by numbers or overindulgent, overly long attempt at an epic any day of the week.
My only real gripe with the album is that final track ‘All We Have Is Now’, whilst being an attempt at ending the record with something more melancholic and poignant, is a little bit on the disappointing side. It’s a really good piece but would have worked better in the middle of the album or being made longer than the two and a half minutes it runs for, allowing it time to build to a more grand conclusion.
It’s the only real damper on an otherwise really strong record, one that will appeal to their already substantial fan base whilst being different enough to pick up some new sets of ears along the way.
1. Trouble’s Coming – 8.5/10
2. Oblivion – 8.5/10
3. Typhoons – 8/10
4. Who Needs Friends – 7/10
5. Million And One – 7/10
6. Limbo – 9/10
7. Either You Want It – 7/10
8. Boilermaker – 8.5/10
9. Mad Visions – 7.5/10
10. Hold On – 7.5/10
11. All We Have Is Now – 6.5/10
Overall – 8/10