Artist: The Royalty
It’s been three long years since The Royalty have released new material. The El Paso five-piece have spent that time indulging in their love for indie-pop and Soul singers. After signing with Victory Records back in November, The Royalty has finally released their much anticipated sophomore album – Lovers. The charm of The Royalty is that they are able to take the emotion, the passion of Soul-Blues and translate it into some of the most sultry, infectious indie-pop.
Lovers is characterized by its fusion of 60’s doo-wop, blues and indie-pop. The instrumentation is a breezy intermingling of bright dancing guitar riffs, colorful energetic rhythm section, lilting keyboards and Nicole Boudreau’s soulful gin sweetened vocals. Listening to the album conjures images of The Royalty in the back of a smoky bar, playing to a house packed full of individuals hiding inside their half empty glasses. On Lovers Boudreau croons about love, loss and lust – delivered in the most delicious manner possible.
Boudreau has a natural ability to tell a story without it being clichéd or heavy handed. “Please Lie” is narrative about a woman who is dating someone that is in a band, and the insecurity that touring far from home has created. “Oh, she’s waiting outside after the show/I guess she wants to say, ‘hi’ – how do I know if/that smile is only polite or something more?/don’t wanna know/don’t wanna know.” The track open with a bright, buzzing electric guitar performed by Jesus Apodaca. The simple chord progression is repeated throughout the song with Daniel Marin Jr. filling in the gaps with emotive keys. When Boudreau sings the chorus of “please lie” it gives the track urgency, fueled by the fear of a broken heart.
One of the album’s more melancholy tracks, “Bottle Breaker” follows the narrator after a particularly painful break-up. However, what makes the situation even more caustic is that the couple still shares an apartment together. “And kids are really cruel/and now the town ain’t big enough/to entertain the both of us/too bad we’re sharing rent now/too bad we’re sharing friends/there are people taking your side/and people taking my side/the stakes are getting high.” The track opens with a guitar riff that somehow is able to evoke pained remorse and remembrance. However, Joel Quintana never lets Boudreau fall into self deprecation as he keeps the track moving forward with “barks” and “snaps” of his drum kit.
“Saint Bowie” finds The Royalty embracing glam and art-rock of the 70’s. The song is an obvious tribute to rock ‘n’ roll icon David Bowie as well as a celebration of life and personal identity. “Just turn and face the strange/we’ve got a patron saint, if we remember that/we would make Bowie proud/yeah, we would/Starman just landed down/we’re shining/oh, let’s glam it up/ that glitter sets your hair on fire/every time I look your skirt’s pulled up a little higher.” The track is a sweet malaise of churning guitar riffs, driving keys and Boudreau projecting the grandiose bombastity of Bowie.
Lovers, and to a greater extent The Royalty, is how pop music should be: begging to be turned up loud, begging to be danced to, begging to repeated over and over again till the lyrics are inscribed into our hearts.
Review written by: Ethan Merrick