Blacklist Royals – “Die Young With Me”
Rather than doing a huge intro on the band here, we suggest (once you’ve finished reading this review!) that you head over to the band’s Facebook page. There, rather than finding the normal boring band bio, you will find an interesting piece describing the hardships that twins Nat & Rob Rufus have faced in life, let alone getting this album out there. The difficulties with the album are surprising given how brilliant their debut, “Semper Liberi” was. Thankfully, all the hassle was worth it as they have delivered one of the best albums of the year so far.
The albums kicks off with an initially restrained opening, as the solo vocals accompanied by only an organ, introduce “Righteous Child”. It soon builds, however, into a brilliant punk inspired rock n roll song which will instantly lead to comparisons to The Gaslight Anthem at their anthemic best…it’s a brilliant start to the album. The Gaslight Anthem’s skill of giving a song a sense of ‘intensity’ beneath the melodic style is also seen on “Missing Something”. That’s not to say they have lost their punk ethic, as shown by “The Open Door”, but even on this they still can’t help but include a sing a long chorus!
Things get slower and more thoughtful on “Out In The Dark”, and it provides a nice break and change in pace that allows the listener to regain their breath from the brilliant, but frantic, opening few tracks. “Twenty Six and Gone” keeps the pensive lyrical style going on a song which is simple and fragile, but brilliant.
“Common Things” sees the band back to delivering some great punk inspired rock songs. Again, the added emphasis on the keyboards/organ, and the great chorus, help to give it a more commercial edge. It’s a formula which is repeated with equally great success on “Skeleton Crew”. “Die Young With Me” and “Hearts On Fire” see the pop punk factor come back to the fore, however, we are not talking Blink 182 et all, but instead it’s the quality pop punk sound as influenced by Elvis Costello. They manage to expertly combine their lyrical skills with a Springsteen esque rocker on “Last Days Of The Suicide Kids”.
It’s inevitable that the Blacklist Royals will see comparisons being made to The Gaslight Anthem with this release, and that’s not a bad thing! This is especially true when it’s due to the fact they have delivered an album full of great songs that have punk rock roots, but built on huge melodies. When they combine this with heartfelt lyrics then you know you are on to something special. Indeed, ironically, with the Gaslight Anthem due to release their new album next month they are actually under some pressure to see if they can match “Die Young With Me”!!