Artist: The Royal Royal (iTunes) (Spotify)
Album: The Royalty
Label: Paradigm Collective/Provident/Essential Worship
Release Date: 10/16/12
Reviewer: Carter Fraser
- Praise Him
- To You
- How Wonderful
- How Long
- Life In Your Hand
- Mighty Hands
- My Salvation
- My Hope
- Draw Near
- Your Voice
I apologize for when I suggested that no one was approaching worship from an indie rock standpoint; The Royal Royal are more or less trying. Granted, it’s not like they’re the next Danielson or something, but The Royalty does sound much more similar to, say, a power-pop Arcade Fire than 90% of worship music. In fact, if you were to listen to The Royalty without the lyrics, you wouldn’t be able to tell it’s a worship album at all. That’s a terrific testament to the originality present. Sometimes the style contrasts with the plainly worshipful lyrics so much that the listener is forced to do a double take; while neither The Royal Royal’s style nor lyricism are unexplored, they haven’t been combined quite like this.
Now don’t get too excited yet, there’s still much work to be done for the Ontario natives. There’s a lot of inconsistency littered throughout The Royalty but when they’re at their best, the result is striking. Take “Heartbeats” as an example, which takes advantage of its simplicity and rhythm before the exuberant, heartfelt chanting of “in You / I am alive.” There’s quite simply more songwriting talent here than in other acts, yet it’s still undeveloped. At this point it may just be that The Royal Royal are still sort of naïve. For this reason it’s fair to call The Royalty a “pop” album when referring to its accessibility, though there are more creative undercurrents present than the term suggests.
Synths are frontloaded onto the project (as are the upbeat tracks in general), and they are used with differing levels of success. As a more negative example, “To You” stands out as borderline cheesy, though it remains passable. Some of the later cuts are among the best though, such as the soaring “Mighty Hands”, which swoons gracefully along the lines of an Arcade Fire-lite epic. Vaguely Jon Foreman-ish vocals (see “My Salvation” or “To You”) are also present, but oddly not consistent, as the vocals take on as many slightly different sounds as The Royalty does as a whole. Keep in mind this is all in combination with fairly stereotypical worship lyricism. But since the lyrics are made slightly less of the focus by the, well, good music, any deficiencies there are generally not too outstanding.
Overall: It seems plausible that The Royal Royal may get tossed around as rising stars in worship music, and for good reason. It’s hard not to see the indie worship crowd taking kindly to this release, or possibly choosing a single off of it to embrace.
RIYL: Remedy Drive, Leeland, Gungor, Switchfoot, David Crowder Band, Arcade Fire