Rock ‘n’ roll has reached an age where it gets tougher and tougher to decide whether it’s a “problem” when a new band “copies” the greats. UK’s Royal Blood is an interesting case study in this matter because the duo has turned to rock bands from within the last 10-15 years for their inspiration, rather than digging deep for influence from, say, The Kinks, or The Who.
What they’ve created with their debut full-length comes off sounding like a stockpile of the styles and beats the likes of Wolfmother and Jack White have established as their own in the oughts. That’s not to fully discredit this new album, however, because approval should be laid at Royal Blood’s feet for the mere quality of the music they’ve put together for their first recording. It’s encouraging to know drummer Ben Thatcher and bassist/singer Mike Kerr wrote this entire album all on their own. And it’s not like they straight ripped off another band’s album – there are bits and pieces in there that feel solely Royal Blood, and hint this duo may impress the hell out of us with new material over the next few years.
‘Til that time has come there are plenty of tracks on their self-titled worth spending some time with. “Figure It Out” is just plain fantastic, with the guitar chugging along until it gets the cymbal ting and drum beat it was looking for, while Kerr flaunts a sexy and swaggering ‘tude to match the tune perfectly. The song is complete with the necessary dose of ballsy riffage that plumps it up toward the end.
Royal Blood also treats love just as any rockin’ outfit should, putting up a front and faking indifference toward it. “Blood Hands”, which features almost metal undertones of rhythm, fits this bill nicely, while “You Can Be So Cruel” actually lets it guard down over the woman, and surrounds itself with haughty beats to try and disguise its hurt feelings.
Then there’s “Loose Change”, which sounds like Jack White is actually guesting, vocally, on the track. It’s got more of that dark rhythm to it, however, which doesn’t quite fit with the idea of a White song, and that’s to Royal Blood’s advantage. If they want to keep borrowing ideas from their recent forefathers, they have got to at least toss them up with music scraps of their own.
We’ll see what these Brits can put together on their next few albums, but for now, I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt. They’ve got powerful friends in Arctic Monkeys, who share management with them under Wildlife Entertainment. AM were the first to bring Royal Blood’s name to the table, as their drummer wore an RB shirt while they played Glastonbury in 2013. Fast forward a year, and Royal Blood plays Glastonbury. Sometimes it really is all about who you know, but for this new duo, it looks like it will end up being about how good they are at what they do.