1. Little Bastards
2. Massacre, The New American Dream
4. Tonight Is The Night I Die
6. Hang On To Yourself
7. Fucking With My Head
8. Nervous Breakdown
11. Doom (Empty)
12. Black Sheep
It would be easy to dismiss 'The Bastards' before even giving it a listen - the name alone may deter softer ears. Then, to have the audacity to not only describe the project as a concept album half a century after the golden age of concept albums, but to set it on a fictional 19th century utopian/dystopian island would likely draw a sneer at best from many listeners. However, if you can look beyond this (and I'd advise you do) you'll find an album which is as grand in its ambition and scope as it is in its billing. Take note: it's also as colourful as its title suggests - delicate ears tread carefully!
The album opens brightly with 'Little Bastards', with a glam-groove evoking later Arctic Monkeys vibes, followed by the Marilyn Manson-esque electro stomp of 'Massacre, The New American Dream'. By the time 'Lonely' pops up, it makes marks a definite change of pace. As a song, it wouldn't sound out of place on any chart-topping Soul-Pop album. Beyond this point, the album becomes a beautifully eclectic collection of sounds and inspirations - from the Dicso-Funk groove of 'Hang On To Yourself' to the deep Blues/Tropical Pop blend of 'Nervous Breakdown' and nod to Black Sabbath of 'Doom (Empty)'.
Throughout the album, and despite the changes in musical style and tone, the lyrics remain deeply personal, deeply emotional, and drenched in pain and hurt. But they never stray into self-pity - they are full of a determination and strength to overcome. The only downside to this is that the openness and honesty of the lyrics may be uncomfortable and challenging to some, particularly on songs like 'Tonight Is The Night I Die', where the vocals and the meaning are less draped in Rock-and-Roll swagger. But this is an uncompromising band, and to dial back their message or wrap it in layers of subtlety could risk the immediacy of the message, which is a major appeal of the band.
The more you listen, the less clear the link to the album's concept becomes. The songs stand up on their own without necessarily knowing the back story. However, if you take the time to read around the band, and the album, it becomes clear that the concept is less about the album directly, and more a vehicle for the band to cultivate and pursue their interests in addition to their music - as aspect which broadens the connection you can make, and which helps turn their fanbase into more of a community.
Is this a classic album? I'm not sure. Could it be the start of the band spreading their musical wings and aiming for greater heights? Quite probably. Definitely a band to watch and take note of for the future.
Standout track: Nightmares (a definite sing-along favourite of the future)
Website - palayeroyale.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/PalayeRoyale/
Review - Adam Harrison