The ‘difficult second album’

Royal Blood’s second album comes a hefty three years after their debut turned them into the darlings of the UK music press, and not without some merit.

How Did We Get So Dark? doesn’t deviate too far from the template they laid out on the self titled album. Royal Blood come across like a somewhat more forceful, bludgeoning version of the White Stripes crossed with Queens of the Stone Age, most noticeably on the opening pair that thump along propelled by some muscular riffing and cracking drums. After this the boys start to experiment more with melodies and some funky moves. It’s not much of a diversion from their straight-ahead, unpretentious mantra, but it’s enough to show some development even if album dips a bit, losing some of that initial energy and clout before getting back on track with the amazingly catchy and appropriately titled ‘Hook, Line and Sinker’.

This is essentially Royal Blood making a run at establishing a sound of their own, trading off some of the brawn for more nuanced melodies and adding some flurries of keys. To that end, How Did We Get So Dark? is a problematic album that loses some intensity and the raw immediacy that came across on the debut, yet actively props up Royal Blood’s sound. The ‘difficult second album’, but not one without plenty of good moments.

1. How Did We Get So Dark?
2. Lights Out
3. I Only Lie When I Love You
4. She’s Creeping
5. Look Like You Know
6. Where Are You Now?
7. Don’t Tell
8. Hook, Line & Sinker
9. Hole in Your Heart
10. Sleep