Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark? Review


How do you follow a hugely successful debut album, one which became the fastest-selling British rock debut back in 2014 and appeared on so many adverts and TV shows that tracks were a part of everyone’s day whether they wanted them or not? Well if you’re Brighton duo Royal Blood, you don’t mess with the formula.

After attempting to mix things up just a tiny little bit, by testing out female backing vocals and even being tempted by a touch of synth and, perish the thought, guitars, Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher decided that a certain old cliché had lasted for a reason. Their signature sound wasn’t something to be broken but refined.

Sticking to the Royal Blood formula ‘How Did We Get So Dark’ is crafted with the same grit and focus as their 2014 debut, so pretty much exactly what you might expect, wonderfully heavy bass lines that beguile the duo format and the kind of relentless cluster-bomb percussion that sends your blood pressure rising.  

Opener and title track ‘How Did We Get So Dark’ might start things off slowly, but there’s more than a little sleazy brooding in the vein of QOTSA and Muse, building towards ‘Lights Out’ as Kerr and Thatcher continue to darken the atmosphere, this time with a little more punch and some squealed bass. ‘I Only Lie When I Love You’ struts with a curled lip and a lethal focus on intensifying the simplistic power of Mike Kerr’s distorted riffs and Ben Thatcher’s unrelenting percussion.

Things fall into a kind of shadowy stumble as ‘She’s Creeping’ and the Arctic Monkeys infused ‘Look Like You Know’ trip sulkily into your ear drums. Beginning intentionally staggered rhythms, which continue within tracks like ‘Don’t Tell’, ‘Hole In Your Heart’ and album closer ‘Sleep’, as things retreat further into the shadows, walking home after closing time in desperate jealousy engulfed insomnia. Though keeping things crawling in the darkness these tales of moody heartbreak aren’t as stirring as album highlights, such as the enigmatic return to QOTSA immersion of ‘Hook, Line & Sinker’.

Overall ‘How Did We Get so Dark’ is Royal Blood letting go of second album stress by embracing what they love. Tracks don’t really come to life through earbuds or weaved into TV trailers but are about live sets. These are about the feeling of standing in a crowd of people as Kerr’s bass and Thatcher’s drum rumble through the air around you, with the kind of visceral power that could knock you off your feet. 

Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark? = 8/10

Hayley Miller

Single Review – Royal Blood – Little Monster

Royal Blood were formed in Brighton last year by Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher. There has already been plenty of fuss and hype over them from the like of Zane Lowe and with them being on the shortlist for the BBC’s sound of 2013 poll and also with the confirmation they’ll be supporting Arctic Monkeys at Finsbury Park later this year. This is the second track they’ve released as a single and they have not ruled out an album this year either. With the attention and following they’ve accumulated in a rather short period of time, then it could prove to be a shrewd move from them. Their most recent single is ‘Little Monster’ which opens with raging, scuzzy guitars that are recorded in a close up and immediate fashion. The vocals are slightly distorted in a muted fashion on the verses and in a more sharper manner on the chorus as he ups the anti. The percussion is as you’d expect with the crashing and rapid fills. There is your token guitar solo in there too for good measure. It is a song full of energy and pent up fury but it is just yet another variation of Desert Rock. Like most new bands there is absolutely nothing you can put your finger on that is new or unique. All you can do is file them next to QOTSA, Arctic Monkeys, The Black Keys, The Family Rain, Drenge, Deap Vally, FIDLAR etc. etc. etc. I’m in no doubt that they are not the best out of this sludge of scuzzy guitars but if you want another to add to your collection then here they are.

http://youtu.be/BvAdgDcM9X4

Image from www.theguardian.com