If there’s one thing [well, two actually] that you can’t avoid in the musical media sphere at the moment it’s Royal Blood. The Brighton duo’s debut album topped the charts for a week, they sold out their tour in under 10 seconds, and have been heralded as the new figureheads for rock and roll as a musical form.
Contrary to popular opinion, I find Royal Blood to be a classic example of the bland, gutless rock music that record labels have been trying to cash in on since Jack Bugg kicked off the ‘revival’ of such a style in 2012. This same blandness plagued Arctic Monkeys’ most recent effort, which was, frankly, a soulless sludge of mediocre songs with totally flat production. You only have to listen to the first 30 seconds of ‘Do I Wanna Know’ to get an overall impression of the album. No development, no dynamic range; If AM were a Stag do, it would be a dreary one in which the majority of time was spent waiting for the train to Vegas in a poorly fitting morph suit [lookin’ at you festival goers!].
And yet, despite my criticism, AM has sold by the truckload, been raved about endlessly by every journalist in the land, and secured Arctic Monkeys’ place as one of the biggest bands in Britain today. But AM also represents a first tentative step towards the re-commercialisation of rock music. Let’s jump genres here. My dear sweet ignorant sister, being the stereotypical teenage girl in all but brain cell count, is currently obsessed with ‘pop-punk’ band 5 Seconds of Summer. Here we have a, what I like to call ‘Busted formation’ band. 4 lads, with leather jackets and spiked hair and skinny jeans to adhere to the basic stereotypes of ‘rock music,’ who much like their One Direction cousins, are youthful and cute so as to appear non offensive to a young audience, but are stylised with JUST ENOUGH of a rock look to trick gullible non-music fans into thinking they’re a ‘rock band’ who write their own songs and play their own instruments.
Admittedly, I don’t know a great deal about this band, but I can tell you that the reason they exist is because record labels are watching the trends, and ‘rock’ as a trend, as a fad, is coming back into the mainstream. But not rock as we know it, a neutered form of the genre, a pale imitation with no depth or soul, a mayfly sub genre of pop rock that will vanish and die as soon as the next bandwagon strolls gracefully by. The same thing happened when Mumford & Sons appeared, the industry adapted, churning out more and more copycat bands to adhere to a vaguely folky backdrop. Within a fortnight of Daft Punk bringing out the disco-infused ‘Get Lucky,’ disco style songs were being dropped left right and centre, from Bruno Mars to Arcade Fire.
All of these bands, be they Royal Blood or 5 Seconds of Summer, are riding the bandwagon, and hell, good luck to them, but it’s the artists of real depth and ability that are swept aside as the pop industry once again shoves a large soggy fish down the throats of the clapping seal consumers, who everyday are excited by the same meal, no matter how thinly the meat is sliced.
More posts/opinions/rants coming soon!