It’s interesting how much track sequencing can influence one’s appreciation of individual songs on an album.
Organizing tracks is a lot like setting a lineup in baseball. You really want a good song at the beginning to set the table and get a listener pumped up for what’s to come. Then you eventually move into the heart of the album where all the best songs are. And then, if there’s any filler, it’s thrown in toward the end.
And just like a baseball team, the strength of some songs can have a positive impact on the ones that follow.
Case in point, Mirrors, the 2011 debut from U.S. Royalty. While the D.C.-based quartet didn’t necessarily start its album off strong, tracks 3-6 sustain the disc and make the whole thing a worthwhile listen.
The opener, “The Mirror”, is just a short intro track that’s not bad but not anything special. It’s followed by possibly the worst track, “Hollywood Hollows”, a bluesy rock number that falls short of whatever pinnacle it’s trying to reach.
Then come the heavy hitters. “Monte Carlo” sounds like VHS or Beta or some other indie-electro band trying to cover Fleetwood Mac. It could be the standout track on a lot of albums, just not this one.
That honor belongs to track 4, the cleanup hitter, “Equestrian”. I can’t place who it sounds like, and maybe that’s because it’s similar to several bands, but this song is the big single on this album for good reason. It’s the type of song that should be getting loads of radio play, but sadly isn’t.
Next up is “Vacation Vacation”, which is definitely a solid song in its own right. But its value is bumped up a notch because the listener is already on a higher level after hearing the previous two songs.
Also riding the wave of momentum is “Old Flames”, another slower song that is pretty good, but sounds even better because, by this point, you’ve already been sold on the band.
The rest of the album is solid filler — not great, not horrible — with a slight uptick at the end in the form of “Voice Memo”.
But five noteworthy songs out of 10 isn’t too shabby for a band that few people have ever heard of.
And the boys are already working on a follow-up disc.