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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 – I Only Lie When I Love You

A modern blues track with an accompanying video that sees the camera sweep between legs, before rolling around a drum kit – enhancing the singles crunchy percussive punch. No we’re not stepping back to 2003 but embracing all things rock duo with the hypnotically addictive new single from Brighton’s Royal Blood. Yes, there’s more than a little nod to iconic The White Stripes within latest single ‘I Only Lie When I Love You’ and not only within the video, directed by Pascal Teixeira, but some nasal-toned exclamations and a lethal focus on intensifying the simplistic power, and grit, of Mike Kerr’s distorted riffs and Ben Thatcher’s relentless percussion. The third single released ahead of second album ‘How Did We Get So Dark’,June 16 via Warner Bros, which was recorded in Brussels with producer Joylon Thomas and London with co-producer Tom Dalgety, as well as the bands UK tour, set to begin this August, where they’ll be joined by At The Drive In and Black Honey, ‘I Only Lie When I Love You’ is sure to get adrenaline pumping in anticipation.

Hayley Miller

Single Review – Royal Blood – Hook, Line and Sinker

The Brighton rock duo Royal Blood reintroduced themselves with the release of Lights Out earlier in April, demonstrating the same thrashing methodology and jarring fierceness explored on their self-titled debut. The latest offering – Hook, Line and Sinker – follows in the same vein. It finds foundation in the frenzied opening guitar riff, which sets the tone for the chaotic accompanying music video, as well as the heated vocals and instrumentalism that intensify throughout, not to mention the little snippet of cowbells fans are going crazy for. The most effective part of the track is the hushed portion towards the end, which soon bursts into the lashing guitar we’re used to. It does share similarities with the debut’s material – you can tell they’re related, but at the same time there are differences that make their shuddering rock all the more punchy and effective. With the two success stories made of Lights Out and Hook, Line and Sinker, June’s release of How Did We Get So Dark? is set to be just as ferocious as the debut, if not more so.
Ellie Chivers

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Single Review – Royal Blood – Lights Out

If you were as obsessed with Royal Blood’s previous releases as many radio stations back in 2014 then new single ‘Lights Out’ is sure to get your pulse racing. After the whirlpool ferocity of the last few years, Brighton duo Guitarist Mike Kerr and Drummer Ben Thatcher are back with the same punch of thunderous hooks that skyrocketed their debut self-titled album to the top of the UK chart three years ago. ‘Lights Out’ is the first single taken from upcoming album ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’, which is set for release on June 16th via Warner Brother records and is just as addictively earth-shaking as the bands 2014’s ‘Little Monster’. With Biffy Clyro style oddities, including the tracks accompany video of spooky gravity, and physics, defying swimmers as well as plenty of dripping face paint. ‘Lights Out’ is sure to fit perfectly into the band’s live set, showing Royal Blood have once again created a sound that defies their limited band number.

Hayley Miller

Single Review – Royal Blood – Where Are You Now

There are some things the world is just better off without- those trainers that are also high heels, the third ‘Sharknado’ film, and a new single from everybody’s favourite manufactured, rock-music-for-dummies duo, Royal Blood. And yet here we are, in 2016, presented with their newest gift to the music world, their new single “Where Are You Now?” which, disappointingly, isn’t a cover of the certified Bieber/Jack Ü banger of last year.
It’s been two years since the release of their self-titled debut album, meaning they’ve had plenty of time to grow, develop and change up their style and release something different and exciting. But they haven’t. The two-piece have instead chosen to stick to their tried and tested formula of creating songs for middle aged men called Phil who still listen to Wolfmother, wear mirrored sunglasses and genuinely enjoy listening to Top Gear Driving Anthems compilation CDs.
And that’s fine, really. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying those things, and there’s nothing wrong with this single. The real issue is that there’s nothing glaringly right about it either. It isn’t exciting, or memorable, or even particularly catchy. It just is. This feels like it would be more at home in an Apple advert than coming out of a teenager’s laptop speakers. And that’s where the issue lies-once again, Royal Blood have released something boring masquerading as something bigger.

Katie Hayes

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