It was really difficult to not be completely biased when Greg Hanson from King Pizza records provided me the pre-release to the new The Royal They release, Foreign Being. When I heard their first release, I considered it one of the best records I had heard in a very long time. I also would consider it one of the top 3 all-time greatest records released with no bass player. So, difficult as it was, I had to put aside my expectations that I was going to be blown away yet again and give it a fair and critical listen. With that said…..
Let’s get this out of the way. The Royal They’s release, Foreign Being, is brilliant! There’s so much to unpack in this eleven-song release that it required multiple listens to grasp the full impact of the album. This, in no way, is a criticism. In fact, this is exactly what all bands should aspire to deliver. Foreign Being exhibits a band that is growing and pushing boundaries in themselves, their listeners and fans. As I listened to the tracks, I felt it captured and reflected a blend of emotions that seem so prevalent right now. And, while these emotions are so pervasive in the collective psyche, it retains a personal, inward feel. The band opts for a series of fine surgical tools to carve these emotions right into the mind and heart.
While the album’s message may be delivered with surgical skill, they didn’t shy away from pulling out the sledgehammer for the musical delivery. This is a heavy, intense album. As with the first album, the musicianship continues to be top notch. The two guitars swirl around each other in subtle and superb counterpoint. Every song superbly leverages various forms of opposite motion to great effect. The result is a fantastic use of dynamics. When the two guitars meet up in unison, the crescendo is deafening and delicious. The drums are daring and driving. They are neither sparse nor overblown. They are always just right. Lastly, the vocals….ah… those vocals. The vocals are so spot on, words cannot describe. They are melodic and steeped in emotion and purpose. The gamut of emotion is there in spades. Rage, sadness, joy, snark… you want it, you got it.
While every song on the album is great, here’s my list of standouts:
The first two tracks, C.N.T. and Sludgefucker, are brutal and ferocious. With a lyric like “the vitriol of the unevolved” from C.N.T., you get the idea. There are no punches pulled.
Flying Naked, the third track is wonderfully dark and moody. The track starts in quiet chaos and slowly ramps up until the emotion and energy is so strong that it only seems fitting that it ends with the vocalist left screaming at the top of her lungs all by herself.
The fifth track, Veritas, may be the most emotionally crushing. The musical backdrop teeters between joy and sadness as the lyrics present an image consistent with the recognition and (maybe) relief of one’s own mortality or perhaps the frailty of existence. The chorus exclaims “I will die when I die. I get by…. I get by”. The lyrics have that rare quality of universal appeal and application regardless of the true lyrical intent.
The eighth track, Say Less, is a nice tip-of-the-hat to the songs and sounds that are present in The Royal They’s first release. It’s fun and uplifting. It’s the only one you’ll get though. For me, it was just enough.
PLEASE do yourself a favor and check out this release! Foreign Being is slated for release on January 13th. However, you can go to their Bandcamp page and check out one of the songs they have made available prior to release. While you are on their Bandcamp page, don’t forget to listen to their first, self-titled release.
The Royal They is celebrating their release with a release party on January 13th and the Gutter Bar in Brooklyn, NY. If you can’t make that show, don’t worry. They play frequently. One show I am very excited about is their upcoming show, March 3rd at Our Wicked Lady in Brooklyn, with the awesome The Mad Doctors and hub city faves, Atom Driver.