Guitar music and pop culture feel like isolated entities. Bruising riffs and billowing solos appear at odds with the zeitgeist. Throughout much of 2014, the idea that a rock revival lay in wait appeared far-fetched. Enter Royal Blood. On the 25th August the Brighton duo’s eponymous debut dropped and streaked like a whippet to the top of the charts. 66,000 units were dispensed with in a single week, making it the fastest selling rock album since Noel Gallagher debuted his High Flying Birds in 2011.
This triumph is so satisfying and so unexpected because Royal Blood rely on no gimmicks or whirligigs. They write burly satisfying hooks, but they don’t bend over backwards in search of cloying catchiness. There is no concession to passing fads, no acknowledgement of any sound, any vision, but their own. In other words, Royal Blood make hard edged, devilishly uneasy rock music and nothing else. There are echoes of The White Stripes (lyrically), The Black Keys (the grooves) and DFA (the feral, distorted intensity), but Mike Kerr’s sound is his own.
Kerr’s bass is predatory; it prowls with the thudding, lumbering certainty of the grizzly bear, but growls with the lithe menace of a Siberian tiger. “Loose Change” showcases Kerr’s potential as he injects some delicious sway into the hips, before slamming down hard on the accelerator and speeding into an ever-tightening-knot of a riff-come-solo. Royal Blood soon return to their modus operandi: cocksure struts and big black boots smashing skulls on the sidewalk, but there are glimpses of something bigger and more ambitious yet to come. If it all sounds a bit macho and terse, fear not, Kerr’s vocal exudes paranoid frailty and hypnotic allure.
This is the debut album as devastation incarnate; a record that puts the world on notice – Mike Kerr and Royal Blood are ready to eat at rock’s top table, just you try and stop them.
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Brutish, brazen and ungodly satisfying, Royal Blood rode a barrage of chugging bass grooves all the way to the top of the charts in 2014.
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