Album Review: How Did We Get So Dark?

U.K. duo Royal Blood have been one of the most successful and explosive rock bands in recent memory. Their eponymous debut catapulted them to international success. Their sophomore record How Did We Get So Dark? has been out for some time now and brings more of the same fuzzy, Muse-inspired bass lines, cacophonous drums, and shouted refrains. There are some new textures here and there mostly in the form of multi-tracked vocal harmonies, but it’s mostly the same sounds as Royal Blood’s first LP. This is undoubtedly a great thing for rock fans as the band has been one of the most vital acts in the genre over the last half-decade.

Artistically; however, How Did We Get So Dark? suffers for the repetition. There is little in the way of dynamics or tonal variation. It can make the back half of the record into a bit of an aural slog. But when the tunes hit, as on “Lights Out” or “I Only Lie When I Love You”, it’s epic and revelatory stuff. Singer Mike Kerr’s vocals are nuanced and commanding and the hooks created by unique pitch effects on his bass come in unrelenting succession. It’s a worthy record, but given Royal Blood’s de facto role as rock standard bearers, it’s hard not to be disappointed that there isn’t more variation or exploration on display here. Still, How Did We Get So Dark? is a polished and impressive distillation of everything the band has produced thus far.

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