Not letting their sudden success get the best of them, Royal Blood is already back with another album, and it’s not just a cheap follow up. While many expect escaping the sophomore slump to be good enough, the duo may have crafted a follow-up that exceeds their debut.
Shredding viciously on the opener “How Did We Get So Dark” they emulate Queens of The Stone Age and Death From Above in the most powerful and unique ways, with their own heavy-end-focused antics keeping it fresh. The bright harmonies and endless hooks make for an instantly catchy track whose sound is as fun as it is grimy. Blaring into the slow-crawl of “Lights Out” they keep the brooding shuffle immediate with their enticingly layered details. Hitting stadium-ready chorus chants and crashes they really land their heavy hitters right.
Keeping their pop train chugging along, “I Only Lie When I Love You” would already be addictive before their fun lyrics add to the mix. Using the simple but fun melodies to their advantage they mess around both vocally and instrumentally when the other is in full groove, making something constantly interesting while accessible. More upfront in its and sparse in its sound, “She’s Creeping” lets the riffs do the talking as they push lick after lick through the track, for a very straightforward but still exciting song.
“Look Like You Know” goes deep and heavy in its tone, letting the bass weigh you down for the barrage of drums. Going moody on the chorus they through in bright twangs to contrast the almost note-less bass in a glistening way. Rolling aggressively on the pounding drums of “Where Are They Now” is relentless in its fast drive forward, right before the vocals drop off. Moving to its intense bluesy chorus, you can hear the fun in the cheeky riffs they play together, playing to the over-the-top feeling.
Slowing down to a suffocating sustain, “Don’t Tell” lets each note and beat feel important, as they mash and tear melodies apart for a song that falls in and out sync deliciously. A little predictable at times, their explosive finale balances the scales as they put their souls into the second half of the track. “Hook, Line & Sinker” shrieks with an almost unbearable amount of fury in its demented distortion/overdrive combo. The abrasive, grinding verses break open for the dessert of the catchy stop-and-go choruses, holding back nothing and being all the better for it. Make sure to listen for that cowbell moment too.
On a coven-esque organ creep, “Hole In Your Heart” builds the darkest vibe of any song on the record, making for something sounding truly evil. Their pop-infused vocals make each verse a sing-a-long frenzy and the dynamic sucker punch of the chorus racks up the excitement for a mosh before they even get to the fiery bridge. “Sleep” takes the album out on a catchy and frantic note, as they bring out the weirdest sounds and tones, and really push themselves while making a track just as worthy of a single as the openers.
Few albums manage to feel as consistently single-laden as How Did We Get So Dark? and fewer manage to do it with such a consistent sound to them. Royal Blood pushes themselves unbelievably hard on this amazing record to make sure they’re not just known as a cool breakout band.
review by Owen Maxwell