Album two from refreshingly upbeat, cacophonously catchy Tennessee outfit.
Mike Diver 2009-11-23
Tennessee’s best-known rock exports of recent years are undoubtedly Kings of Leon. But while the Followill clan deals in somewhat hackneyed licks, backing lyricism sure to get the bladdered hollering along, fellow TN natives Royal Bangs set their sights on more fidgety, rambunctious fare. You don’t need four pints inside you to not feel embarrassed about singing along.
Second album Let It Beep is a colourful, cheery collection of itchy riffs and electro squawks certain to find its makers friends far beyond the indie underground, if it’s given the chance it deserves. And it should be – at least through the ever-expanding blog world, where the recommendation of an individual can trigger a domino-effect series of subsequent reviews.
Indeed, these words before you arrive after coverage elsewhere on the ‘net, and no apologies are made – with hundreds of BBC-bracketed Rock & Indie acts releasing material every month, having others serve as filters for what’s worth a listen is a blessing. So offer thanks to those with more time on their hands than this writer for directing these songs his way, as Royal Bangs are the kind of refreshingly upbeat, cacophonously catchy outfit that’s flicked personal switches since the DFA 1979 album burned so brightly back in 2004.
With rampant percussion that’s part-Rapture, part-Crystal Antlers, and a celebratory-cum-triumphant tone to the vocals that’s the equivalent of all-boy takes on CSS’s more euphoric rushes, Royal Bangs’ sound is one easily broken down to influences and parallels. But that its constituent elements are swiftly identifiable detracts not a jot from the enjoyment to be had during its 12 tracks.
Huge riffs and pounding drums pepper My Car is Haunted, so stomping of beat that it’s almost glam-rock for the 21st century; meanwhile, hand claps lead the mix of B + E, so slight compared to surrounding material that it’s as if both the soul of Bon Iver and the ghost of Bon Scott have infiltrated the mixing desk. Shit Xmas is Strokes-like in its lo-fi anthem potential, its chorus loud enough to distort proceedings, and the closing Maniverse a romantic scream-along to make the heart flutter and the throat hoarse.
Varied but never lacking cohesion, Let It Beep is a charming and entirely unforeseen hit for tastes demanding their rock a little rough-hewn and happily unaffected. That it makes KoL sound as sonically redundant as U2 and Oasis is merely an accidental bonus.