Living in a city like El Paso where 90% of the bands you come across are either metal or every single horrendous sub-breed of it can make any band with a shred of difference really stand out whether or not the actual music is any good. The Royalty is that kind of band. I hate the qualifier but it stands as proof that while drowning you'll grasp at anything for a chance at the slightest amount of air. Unfortunately it's all in vain as any attempt I made at breathing caused me to swallow an ocean.
The Royalty's self titled full length landed at my doorstep and much to my surprise the sound quality was mind blowing. For a band like this to have such a massive and undeniably unique sound from a local recording was very surprising. The Royalty that I remember running sound for a couple of years back, this was not. The kids have grown up and discovered what it's like to drench themselves in reverb and grasp what their sound and image should have been all along. Finally. From the minute the first track "Alexander" played I was floored by the colors bouncing off my speakers. I was completely lost in the atmosphere they'd carefully crafted for the listener. The similarity between the second track and almost every other Doo Wop song of the '50s and '60s completely brought me out of the experience along with the two tracks that followed. I admire the attempt made by "Vampire Graffiti" but by then I was already on the train back home. Even "Chinese Fire Drill" which was re-recorded from an earlier version I'd heard, had been lost in the mud. It's vocally rhythmic charm and pacing was lost and replaced by a staggered approach making it sound less natural. It was obviously a conscious decision to make it fit in with the rest of the album and so be it.
It suddenly hit me that the reason I'd become detached from the record was obvious. It sounded overproduced. This is where descriptions take a backseat to sheer subjectiveness. The Royalty does nothing to make me want to climb out of my cubby hole and watch them perform live. It's the soundtrack to feature film but never the film itself. The sound engineer did a great job at capturing who this band is but the band did nothing to keep me engaged. This is a great recording and fans of this genre of music have something new to listen to but I've come across it all too often in this city, this will be the last album we hear from The Royalty with it's one or two great fucking songs before the band breaks up and it's members shuffle around to form something else. It's a pattern and it's a staple.
Prove me wrong guys. For the sake of filling the shelf with something other than metal. Prove me wrong.