1. Death Dance
2. Teenage Doors Of Heartbreak
3. You'll Be Fine
4. Dying In A Hot Tub
5. Mrs. Infamous
6. Hospital Beds
7. Love The Void
8. The Boom
Those familiar with Britpop lore may know the story/legend of how the charismatic, yet (arguably) musically challenged, Menswe@r were signed. The story goes that Johnny Dean (vocals) and Chris Gentry (guitar) started selling the band before they were actually formed, tuning in to the mid-90s British musical zeitgeist, resulting in a Melody Maker cover before the band had even released any material. Indeed, they signed a half a million-pound record deal without having any more than a handful of songs to their name. It’s a classic case of The Emperor’s New Clothes, where style was held in higher regard than substance, or a fur coat with no knickers, as some might have it.
Being a latecomer to the work of Palaye Royale, it was with some trepidation that I read their press release before hitting play. It tells a tale of a band who “uniquely encompass the worlds of music, art, fashion and philosophy… equally at home in the hallways of Los Angeles Fashion Week as they are climbing the lighting tresses at the Vans Warped Tour”. An internet image search of the band shows a selection of photos of a trio for whom style is clearly important, with a sort of a gothic Dickensian vibe; top hats, eye shadow and those Libertines style jackets. Lots of style then, but is there any substance?
Thank fuck, yes.
There’s substance, and lots of it. ‘Boom Boom Room (Side B)’ is an incredible blend of styles (there’s that word again), it would be easy to give some sort of glib pigeon hole to the band- like post Power Pop Punk, but that would seriously undervalue the artistic alchemy that’s gone into making this record. It’s so much darker than that tag might suggest, with the lyric of opening track ‘Death Dance’ exploring the psyche crushing mores of modern society- including the hauntingly accurate line “we live in an age where sex and horrors are gods / we live in an age where all our bodies are flawed”.
‘Teenage Doors of Heartbreak’ is perhaps a more straightforward theme of adolescent love, loss and betrayal, but delivered with no less panache and vigour. ‘You’ll Be Fine’ is back to the darker theme of depression, the title being a nod to those who may inadvertently belittle its dark grip on sufferers, whilst ‘Dying In A Hot Tub’ refers to the loss of spirit and mind to drug abuse. Despite the fact that Palaye Royale hail from Toronto, and now ply their trade from the capital of United States brashness, Las Vegas, this record will strike a power chord with the British listener, the lyrics are often witty if not particularly subtle, and there is often more than a hint of a mid-noughties Alex Turner in Remington Leith’s delivery.
‘Boom Boom Room (Side B)’ is a much shorter flip side to 2016’s ‘Boom Boom Room (Side A)’, with roughly half the number of tracks when compared to its predecessor, but this is a case of quality over quantity, as well as substance and style.
Does it leave me wanting more? Hell yes, and I’d take that any day over wading through hours of interminable musical bilge.
Website - palayeroyale.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/PalayeRoyale/
Review - Jon Stokes