When it came time for Royal Blood to get back in the studio for their fourth album, Back To The Water Below, they made the bold decision to prioritize gut instinct over sensitivity. They had just finished touring their third album, 2021’s “Typhoons,” in arenas all over the world, and had the opportunity to copy and paste the formula for another hit.
While “Typhoons” saw them hand some production credits to Paul Epworth (Adele, Florence + The Machine, U2) and Josh Homme of Queens Of The Stone Age, this time vocalist and bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher chose to make the album themselves in the studio. their home in Brighton. It was a decision that lifelong friends made intentionally, knowing that the core of their success lay in their chemistry and trust in each other.
“Ben and I know each other really well, and this record was about being honest with each other,” Kerr said recently. NME. “Self-producing it forced us to do things that came naturally to us.” The result is Back To Water Below, an album that highlights the band’s rock ‘n’ roll instincts, self-knowledge and ability to generate something new with bass, drums and not holding hands.
The band has been on an upward trajectory since they released their self-titled debut album in 2014 (NME Noting that the duo focused on noise and grit in their two-pronged attack), he followed it up with 2017’s “How Did We Get So Dark,” which proved the band were nothing but wonders on their hit album. Then the “Typhoons” sealed the deal, so to speak, solidifying them not only as a tried-and-true rock duo but also as a stage-worthy Glastonbury Pyramid.
After making headlines this summer with blowing up in front of their “pathetic” crowd at Radio 1’s Big Weekend, here the duo have blocked out all outside noise, returned to their home studio and capitalized once again on the undeniable chemistry they’ve made their names on. .
With “Back To The Water Below,” they continue to put their money where their sound is, and album opener “Mountains At Midnight” is the first evidence of that quest. Crashed into a din of distorted audio, heavy drums and Keir’s howl, “I’m a bruise you soothe / In your dancing shoes” On bold, high-tempo percussion. The track crescendos and crashes, building tension before breaking the smooth delivery of the lines: “Crawling on my bones / Until daybreak”. It feels like an escape, but only if you want to return home to an old area.
In the gritty song that echoes Shiner In The Dark, the duo take on a more melodic tone, strutting across a soaring rock track and singing along. “I bruised” In a way that makes the damage seem almost desirable. “Pull Me Through” emerges as a beautiful piano ballad before Royal Blood’s rocker leanings take center stage, sinister beats break up the moments between verses and chorus, and Kerr draws to the full wealth of his vocals as he confidently urges, “Heart swings like a punching bag / Waiting for you / To pull me through,With an air of resignation tracking every word.
There is also ample evidence on the album that Kerr and Thatcher’s decision to take over production was a wise one. “The Firing Lane” shows a new depth to the duo’s production, as lush piano keys creep up just before stripping away the instrumentation, revealing a sonic simplicity that allows a story of self-loss and then a wandering home to sit in the spotlight.
“Back to the Water Below” sounds like a comeback for Royal Blood. Honoring their intuition, as Kerr said they did in the studio, has produced fertile results for their band. “When we’re doing something really honest, it’s powerful musically,” said the guitarist. NME. There is power in trusting your instincts, and Back to the Water Below supports that assertion.
- release date: September 1
- Mark record: Warner Records