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The Royal Bangs
Let It Beep Hazel Sheffield , December 3rd, 2009 13:51

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Why don't more people know about this band? A five-piece from Knoxville, Tennessee – that's Kings Of Leon country to just about everyone this side of the pond – Royal Bangs prove that the south doesn't just breed retro-rock anthem botherers. Far from it: if their 2008 debut We Breed Champions announced a band with a dizzyingly well-informed reassembly of everything that happened in New York this decade, 'Let It Beep' widens these parameters even further, to include Euro-trash, electro-funk, 70s power rock some seriously stroppy drumming.

They're a band whose influences are stitched into their outerwear – the Strokes and the Walkmen run through as much as Kraftwerk and the odd Radiohead-esque loop – but there are ladles of intelligence in what's attempted and it shows in every perfectly-timed tempo chop and weirdly-cut riff.

What's more, there's every reason to believe that Royal Bangs embrace these concepts – the exercise of making good from the scraps of much-loved music in their heads. Let It Beep was created to fuse the mutually opposed concepts of electronics and 70s rock following frontman Ryan Schaefer's stint as a Euro-dance sponge this year, lucky man. While the cheese supposed by this is more than a little evident on the glitchy drumming and sunnyside-up synths of 'Brainbow' (not to mention that robotic vocal refrain), there's plenty more depth to be found in between the heady layers of 'Poison Control', with its jazzy syncopated riffs and a knob of lovely distortion spread over the bass, or in the Bach-like keyboard refrain of 'Shit Xmas' that descends into garage mayhem for the breakdown.

Penny-pinchers take note, this is top value stuff that gets no better than with 'This House Is Haunted', the stand out track for its sense of measure next to the sometimes overly-hectic noise of the rest. This is rock music made in the mould of TV On The Radio – dirty guitars and multiple layers of percussion – and put together with extremely smart production. It's this production, this slick understanding of when and where things go, that makes the whole of Let It Beep a satisfyingly raucous listening exercise. Any less care, and the whole album would be marred by over-saturation.

Let It Beep is the sound of a band with something to prove – namely growth, development, shit-loads of ambition - but it's nowhere near seminal. Here's hoping it bends ears ready for what comes next.

Dec 7, 2009 1:33pm

Agreed. A very succint review.

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