Today I’m extremely excited to review How Did We Get So Dark?, the second full length album by Brighton rock duo Royal Blood. This band burst onto the scene in late 2014 with the release of their eponymous first album, and their latest record is its highly anticipated follow-up. The band released its first single, Lights Out, back in April, and you can watch the brilliant music video here:
Now on to the record. The album opens with the title track, a strong opener with undulating bass throughout the verses and grungy riffs adding depth to the chorus. It features a great outro, with fantastic drum fills and staccato backing vocals repeating the album name over and over again, which adds a creepy vibe to the song.
Then follows the lead single, Lights Out, arguably one of Royal Blood’s best tracks yet, with a catchy chorus easy to sing – or shout – along to, and a fantastic bass solo. Next is the album’s second single, I Only Lie When I Love You, a grungy track positively dripping with swagger and attitude. The lyrics discuss relationships and break-ups, which are a consistent lyrical theme throughout the record. But then, isn’t love and loss present regularly in everyone’s lives? Vocalist Mike Kerr’s voice remains as strong as ever, switching between sounding soft and emotive and louder, on the verge of shouting, with ease. Plus, the drumming throughout the record, provided by Ben Thatcher, is masterful.
Hook, Line & Sinker is this album’s Ten Tonne Skeleton: it’s hands down the best song on the record, with fantastic catchy lyrics and imaginative instrumentals unmatched by anything else the band have put out. It was pretty difficult for me to list my highlights of this 10-song album, because the entire record is fantastic, but Hook, Line & Sinker is truly on another level.
To me, How Did We Get So Dark? is reminiscent of Biffy Clyro’s work: the drums layered with additional percussion and higher pitched backing vocals draw parallels to their Opposites and Ellipsis albums. Plus, the bass towards the end of Lights Out has a distinct Black Chandelier vibe.
Recently Royal Blood explained to NME that they took inspiration from David Bowie to create this album, but to me it seems clear that their influences are many and varied. This band have been compared to Queens Of The Stone Age and Muse amongst others, and their latest album sounds like they’re trying to live up to those massive comparisons.
Overall, this record is dark and moody, and a fantastic follow-up to their first album. My only criticism is that, at 35 minutes long, there isn’t nearly enough of How Did We Get So Dark? to keep me occupied until Royal Blood release their next album. This band are a fantastic example of home-grown UK talent, and I’ll be following their future success very closely.
Highlights: I Only Lie When I Love You, She’s Creeping, Look Like You Know, Hook, Line & Sinker