Royal Blood‘s triumphant second album, How Did We Get So Dark?, is a project in the power of absolute rock, and in this regard it absolutely dominates. After bursting onto the scene with their groundbreaking self-titled effort in 2014, you might be forgiven for thinking that the Brighton-based duo might switch things up and explore other avenues of rock for their much-anticipated follow-up; instead, we were treated in June to everything we knew and loved about the current poster-boys of British rock, and then some.
How Did We Get So Dark? lets you know it has arrived immediately after you press play, as guitarist and vocalist Mike Kerr lets his bass fly out the traps like a greyhound chasing the most insane rabbit in the world whilst outrunning the sheer earthquake of Ben Thatcher’s rip-roaring drums in the pulsating title track that sets the stage for what’s yet to come. We know straight away that over the next 35 minutes we will be treated to sheer rock’n’roll delight with barely a pause to take a breath, and it’s exciting, terrifying and irresistible all at once. ‘Lights Out’ features a bloody beautiful guitar solo in its sublime second half; Thatcher’s drums surely measure somewhere on the Richter scale in the festival crowd-pleasing treat ‘I Only Lie When I Love You’; ‘She’s Creeping’ plays like an imperial march for the infatuated youth. Does it eventually get repetitive? Sure, but when the repetition is of such sheer musical delight like this, you can hardly complain. When I first reviewed this record, I described the band as “Royal Blood 2.0”, with heavier drums, more feral guitars and an an overall darker but far, far richer sound than in their 2014 album, and I stand by those words now: the tunes that Kerr is able to wrestle out of his bass guitar, and the rhythms Thatcher smashes out of his drums to assist or even lead the crashing music, are so much more of what came in Royal Blood that you can’t help but fall in love with the primeval beauty of How Did We Get So Dark? and play it on repeat for days or weeks on end.
For their second album, Royal Blood may have stuck to what they know, and kept the play-time short and sweet, but the final product is pure and absolute rock distilled down to its most spartan form; although the album’s title question is never answered, and the band rarely foray outside of their comfort zone, that really doesn’t matter as what they have produced is just so much fun to listen to. How Did We Get So Dark? is the perfect example of how to make a terrific second album while sticking to what you know, and is well worth its place at number 6 on our favourite albums of 2017.
How Did We Get So Dark? was released on June 16th via Warner Music