Blood Red Shoes were a flash in the pan, so let us praise God that Royal Blood have arrived to take their place as that loud two-piece from Brighton. However, it’d be a waste of time to expound these similarities when one difference in particular is so striking. Whilst Blood Red Shoes were praised by the partisan indie press, yet widely ignored by anyone who doesn’t hang around the BBC Introducing Stage at Reading, Royal Blood have been picking up some serious traction, with a place on Radio 1’s A playlist, and a high-profile support slot with the Arctic Monkeys. Their self-titled debut seems poised for success - you wouldn’t get good odds on this band being a fad.
Yet whenever a band breaks through from the alt-rock circuit, one has to ask if it’s because they’re the best or if their publicity team is a tad too effective. Royal Blood sit somewhere between these two paradigms, and whilst their engaging mélange of Queens Of The Stone Age, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Jack White is head and shoulders above acts like Drenge, they aren’t enough of an original package to justify their meteoric rise to fame.
You’ve probably heard Figure It Out or Come On Over, the former recently finding itself played repeatedly by Fearne Cotton on Radio 1. These singles serve as an effective litmus test for the album as a whole, the latter having a Muse circa Absolution arrangement without any of Matt Bellamy’s vocal acrobatics, the former sounding like The Dead Weather (though in my opinion, better than anything that band released). Both will surely make it onto the playlists of anyone who enjoys a head-bang from time to time - mostly due to the pounding drumbeat that underpins both.
The rest of the work follows suit, with each track proving to be a tight interpretation of the genre while still remaining rather safe and low risk. You Could Be So Cruel, my bet for next single, jolts along with a glam tinge, again incredibly reminiscent of the aforementioned Muse. Meanwhile, Little Monster is one of the more heavy tracks; this one has a Rage Against The Machine sort of timbre that only serves to repeat a series of riffs extremely repetitively. Overall, the album doesn’t have a glaring dud track and indeed most of it is good, but one would be forgiven for hoping for more adventure and sound less indebted.
I reckon Royal Blood will be with us for some time so you should expect to hear some cuts from their debut the next time you’re in the Cavern on a Saturday. They have the makings of a really good band, but now is the time they need to carve out their own sound. If they continue riding the coattails of their eminent predecessors then their shtick will get boring quickly.