When their self-titled debut landed 3 years ago Royal Blood caused a stir as the idea of such a sonic onslaught being created by just two musicians was almost inconceivable. As it turns out, they like their two-man setup. They apparently experimented with other musicians and incorporating different sounds for How Did We Get So Dark? However, in the end, they found that the additions took away from the overall impact. This raises questions over their longevity and appeal, but let’s focus on the here and now.
The album kicks off with the title track and it proves to be the ideal opener, with some of Mike Kerr’s finest bass work to date. The instrument playing the role of the song’s foundation and the lead guitar. Together with singles ‘Lights Out’ and ‘I Only Lie When I Love You‘ the duo blast through the gates on fine form.
The Muse vibe of ‘Don’t Tell’ presents a noticeable change in style, but ultimately lacks conviction.
Unfortunately, this is when the curse of the difficult second album begins to take effect. They sound self-conscious on ‘She’s Creeping’ – tip-toeing around so as not to tread on the landmine that will release their explosive sonic tendencies. Tweaks with rhythm and natural effects on ‘Where Are You Now?’ and ‘Don’t Tell’ initially work well. The opening drum beat of the former proving just as effective as the habitual wall of bass. The Muse vibe of ‘Don’t Tell’ presents a noticeable change in style, but ultimately lacks conviction. Again, they seem unsure of themselves.
Two albums into a career and with avid support from rock royalty following their debut, you may be forgiven for thinking Royal Blood have earned festival headliner status. Certainly, Mumford and Sons headlined Glastonbury with only two-albums-worth of music to pull from. But considering Royal Blood already omit a handful of songs from their debut in their live sets, and album two plays it safe and unsure, I think they have a long way to go.
Lacks the impact of their debut
Brief moments of rock brilliance
Trapped by their own creative limitations
|1. How Did We Get So Dark?|
|2. Lights Out|
|3. I Only Lie When I Love You|
|4. She’s Creeping|
|5. Looks Like You Know|
|6. Where Are You Now?|
|7. Don’t Tell|
|8. Hook, Line & Sinker|
|9. Hole In Your Heart|