Royal Blood's How Did We Get So Dark?: What You Need To Know
Royal Blood's eponymous 2014 debut album saw the Brighton-based duo breathe new life into British rock music, winning over fans and critics alike with a heavy, riff-driven sound that would put most guitar bands to shame – and doing so using only drums and bass.
Their platinum-selling debut earned the pair a Mercury Prize nomination and saw them pick up the award for Best British Group at the BRITs, as well as winning hmv's Album of the Year, but now the band are ready to unleash its follow-up.
Their new album is titled How Did We Get So Dark? and arrives in stores today. Here's everything you need to know...
A little background...
Following their BRIT Awards win early in 2015, Royal Blood embarked on an extensive tour that also took in festival appearances at Coachella and at Reading & Leeds, where the duo debuted new song 'Hook, Line & Sinker' for the first time. The band also supported Foo Fighters on their UK, US and Canadian tour that year, along with Iggy Pop. At the end of the tour, drummer Ben Thatcher said that the band would take some time off before beginning work on the follow-up to their debut album.
Early in 2016 the band contributed a new song 'Where Are You Now?' to the soundtrack of HBO's series Vinyl, but the duo remained relatively quiet for the rest of the year while they worked on their sophomore album. It wasn't until March this year that Royal Blood announced the title and release date for their second album How Did It Get So Dark?, with the album's lead-off single 'Lights Out' emerging two days later. After unveiling two more new recordings – a studio version of 'Hook, Line & Sinker' and another new song 'I Only Lie When I Love You' – the new album finally arrives in stores this week.
Who's producing it?
Jolyon Thomas, the man who produced their debut album, is once again manning the controls for the band's follow-up. After some preliminary sessions in Brighton, Los Angeles and Nashville, the pair spent six weeks recording in Brussels with Thomas, drafting in Tom Dalgety to mix the new album's 10 tracks in London.
Any special guests?
Nope, it's just drummer Ben Thatcher and bassist/vocalist Mike Kerr going it alone here.
What does it sound like?
If you enjoyed the grinding riffs, pounding drums and catchy hooks of Royal Blood's debut, you'll be pleased to know that there's plenty more of the same on How Did We Get So Dark?
A re-recorded version of 'Where Are You Now' sounds much more muscular, while the already-released 'Lights Out' and 'Hook, Line & Sinker' help set the tone for an album that refines and builds upon their debut's winning formula.
'I Only Lie When I Love You' continues in the same vein, with other highlights like 'Hole In Your Heart' expanding on the bass-and-drums formula with a towering piano riff and 'She's Creeping' offering an angular bass riff that channels Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin into a furiously heavy new compound.
Does it deliver?
At a concise 10 tracks, How Did We Get So Dark? is an album that has had all traces of fat cut away, leaving a lean and mean record that builds on the success of their debut. Being a duo with just bass and drums obviously has the potential to create limitations from a creative perspective, but if ever there was a solid argument for creative limitations as a help rather than a hindrance, then this is one of the best examples you could hope for. Avoiding the temptation to experiment too much too soon, instead Royal Blood's second album wrings every drop of creative juice out of what they already have, and the results are stunning.
It'll be intriguing to see where the band go next, but for now just enjoy a new collection of songs from one of the brightest leading lights that British rock has to offer.