This is one of those albums that I went into expecting to like it, especially after hearing the singles leading up to it, but for whatever reason didn’t expect it to be as good as it is. I’m genuinely floored by how much I enjoyed this album–it went beyond what I could have imagined from this band.
I’ve heard both sides of The Boom Boom Room, I even own a physical copy of side A, and while I really like them I also feel like it was Palaye Royale trying to figure out what they wanted their sound to be. This project has a tentative quality to it that I feel stopped them from really digging in to what they wanted to talk about.
That tentativeness is gone in this album and they finally feel like they’ve landed where they want to be. It fills me with both childish glee and parental pride.
Transitions and Emotional Impact
There’s such a wonderful dynamic to the way Palaye Royale transitions to each new sound. I’m not saying that there isn’t an overall sound to this album, far from it, but there is definitely a progression.
The album starts off more chaotic and angry as the lyrics lash out at the outside world and the people who want to put down those who don’t conform to their expectations. You can check out my review of Massacre, The New American Dream if you want to see me majorly fan-girl about how much I love that song. It all comes to a head in Anxiety then drops off for Tonight Is The Night I Die which creates almost this defeated energy that transitions into Lonely.
I just want to take a second and talk about Tonight Is The Night I Die because the theatrical feel of this song is amazing. Between the strings during the chorus and the choir coming in with the line “hear the angels sing”–it just sets up the rest of the album as something more dynamic than just angry rock music. It was also unexpected to get a rap cadence during the second verse. In fact, this song switches up quite a bit for one of the shortest songs on the album. Plus, I think we all need a breather after Anxiety. I didn’t expect such an electronic based sound from them but it was a wonderful surprise.
For my thoughts on Lonely you can check out my review that I did when it was first released.
Things lighten up a bit with the groovy track Hang On to Yourself, which was the point when I started to come up with a narrative for the album. You can check out my review of this song if you want to see what my initial thoughts were. The album starts off with a lot of anger and then transitions into a period of introspection. Lonely is definitely the lowest point of this album and to have this song come right before a song about “hanging on” is a really nice progression.
The energy level stays up as Fucking With My Head comes in with force. This is one of the first songs I ever heard from Palaye Royale and I love the way it ends in this chaotic, glitchy way that leads beautifully into Nervous Breakdown. Which is, of course, the second breaking point.
This song switches at the turn of a dime and goes from full out screaming to quiet reflection. It will give you chill vibes but also kind of want to break things, which I think is kind of spectacular. And it also feels fitting for this section of the album since it’s everything that the album has talked about so far piling up until everything starts to break.
Learning to Stand
Nightmare has this very intangible feeling to it with it’s super buzzy guitars that remind me a lot of Queens of the Stone Age. There’s a surreal feeling to the whole track that isn’t something I ever thought I would hear from Palaye Royale–in fact, I spend a lot of this album being surprised by how many tricks they had up their sleeves.
I think it’s also telling that they have this stoner rock feeling to the song when, if you think back to Lonely, there’s talk of substance abuse in order to deal with all of the chaos building up inside.
Which leads us to Masochist, a song that–finally–contains words like “you’ve got to move on” and thus marking a transition into self-growth instead of self-sabotage. (Odd for a song with such a title but I kind of enjoy the juxtaposition).
Doom (Empty) is one of those songs admittedly I don’t know what to do with. I sort of understand that it’s about feeling, well, empty and other self-loathing-type things but the sound is a little too tripy for my tastes.
Obviously this isn’t where the album ends but if I let myself keep talking about it we would be here for a while.
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I don’t necessarily think this is a perfect album but it’s a rare occurrence when I instantly love an album in its entirety the first time I hear it.
I don’t want to say I had low expectations for this album but I think I had reasonable ones. It would be good and there would be some fun songs I would revisit. The guitars would be great and the drums would be fantastic. But this… This was SO much better than I could have hoped.
Even the songs I’m not super into are songs I don’t mind listening to. I haven’t skipped any of the songs on any of my listen throughs and, usually, after I write one of these reviews I unsave the album from the library on Spotify but I’m keeping this one. (I don’t know all the words yet).