In preparation for seeing Royal Bangs a few days ago in Chicago, I downloaded all three of their albums but only had time to listen to one in advance of the show. Naturally, I picked the most recent, Flux Outside, which came out this past March, since I figured that most of their set would come from that release.
For the most part, it sounded like some tight, solid indie rock. And early in their live show, things were going well. Playing between opening act Bear Hands and headliner We Were Promised Jetpacks, they managed to keep pace with those formidable bands.
But I quickly lost interest as their set devolved into little more than a cacophony of sound. And, as it turns out, that’s a pretty good way to describe their first two albums.
The Knoxville, Tenn., trio’s 2008 debut, We Breed Champions, is pretty rough around the edges — and at the core for that matter — but you can tell there is some potential.
Just about every song includes glimmers of hope. Unfortunately, there are way too many superfluous sound effects. They need to just strip things down to the basics.
Things do get a little more accessible on 2009’s Let It Beep. But only a little. The band does a better job of focusing on its instruments, but it still messes with the distortion pedal and the effects too much.
After the first listen, I kept comparing the group to The Strokes. But upon a subsequent listen, I realize that such a label is doing a great disservice to The Strokes.
Thankfully, Royal Bangs finally start to tighten things up on Flux Outside. The first two songs, “Grass Helmet” and “Fireball”, start things off well, and they’re followed by a few other strong tracks, such as “Silent Steps” and “Faint Obelisk Two”.
I would say more about this band, but I don’t really have the words. Royal Bangs are an acquired taste, and I don’t know if I have done so yet.