Reviewed By: Clay Conger
Released: January 25th, 2011
A good album is like a movie: Hit them right out of the starting gates, fluctuate the energy almost like a tease, and keep this going until you unleash an ending that either blows someone’s mind or makes them close their eyes with satisfaction. Not many albums can pull this off (look up Talkie Walkie by Air), but as a debut album, Mirrors from U.S Royalty does a fantastic job with this formula. Listening to the album all the way through, I got the feeling that I was listening to a movie soundtrack, something that Martin Scorcese would use in a remake of Garden State.
The album starts off with “The Mirror”, which does what more opening songs should do: start the album shortly and strongly. It’s a simply four chord structure, but it mounts as it progresses, adding riffs and other instruments, building tension and power until it effortlessly transitions into “Hollywood Hollows,” a funky Jimi Hendrix-like number. As the album moves on, the overall genre (indie-rock) becomes evident, yet it’s the small touches here and there, as well as the way the album is structured, that makes it so cinematic. Songs like “Monte Carlo” start off sounding like a typical Shins song until the screeching guitar cuts in, and song transforms right there. There is a riff three-fourths the way through “Fool to Love (Like I Do)” that serves as a welcome jolt as well.
Previously mentioning this before, the energy change throughout an album acts like a tease in the best of ways. This is not to say every album must follow such a formula, but if you’re a band and you’ve got a handful of fast songs as well as slow ones, you need to order them in a certain way to keep the listener guessing. U.S. Royalty does this well. Their slower tracks like “Old Flames” and “Vacation Vacation” are aplenty here, but bursting in are real rockers like “The Desert Won’t Save you.” There are more tranquil tracks than high-energy ones, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if there’s one fault in the album it’s that the faster songs are much better. This is why it’s so rewarding to listen to songs like “Give Up The Ghost,” steadily build momentum in such a joyous way. The faster tracks also feel very 60’s-70’s blues, which is most likely why Scorcese popped into my head when listening to the album. And by the album’s end, “Voice Memo,” is perfectly sweet and serene and will satisfy anyone who listens to the whole album.
Mirrors is an impressive surprise both in musicianship (the guitar riffs especially) and in structure. There is a clear chemistry between the members of the band: the instruments and vocals move flawlessly with each other, and I’d say it’s safe to assume this band would rock live.
U.S. Royalty is set to perform at Sweetlife Music & Food Festival on Saturday, April 28th at the Merriweather Post Pavillion (which DMD will be there covering throughout the day). Tickets can still be brought here .
Preview Mirrors below: