Then there are bands that grow quietly and organically, seeping into the nation’s subconscious as they, almost unnoticed rise to prominence and well merited success.
THEATRE ROYAL most definitely falls into the second category. ‘At The End Of A River, The Sea …’ is the second album from the Medway four-piece, and evidences a natural progression from their excellent debut a couple of years ago.
There is something quintessentially English about THEATRE ROYAL, but this time around their sound is more expansive and embraces a touch of Americana yet never losing the distinctive sound that first brought them to our notice.
The album kicks off with ‘Powder Blue,’ a bouncy track that evidences a rockier and more edgy sound than one might have expected. As usual, the guitar solo is wonderful as are the backing harmonies, but the surprise comes in the final minute as the track ends in a fuzz of feedback. ‘The Story Of My Life’ is typical THEATRE ROYAL with gently chugging riffs and hooky, melodic choruses. ‘Death On The River,’ starts out a little more aggressively but pares back a bit with the chorus reminding me slightly of The Smiths.
‘Home Of The Achingly Dull,’ features the whine of a Hammond organ (I think) that gives it little Springsteen touch, before the prophetic ‘Will England Rain Itself Dry,’ opens with a few chords that echo ‘Oblivion’ by Terrorvision! ‘Three Ships,’ takes on a more melancholy mood then ‘I’m Leaving In The Morning (I Don’t Think I’m Alive)’ races away and features a little country-rock inspired guitar snippet.
‘A Hundred Thousand Tears’ is very country sounding as it bounces along with a touch of Creedence Clearwater Revival (supplemented by a muted trumpet!) about it. ‘These Windows’ again makes early mention of the weather (see what I mean about the band being ‘quintessentially English?!) ‘High Tide And Spring Time’ closes with slide guitar and horns combining to create a sort of Country / Yorkshire Brass Band hybrid.
You’ve got to hand it to these guys – they know how to put a tune together! There can’t be many better song-writers in the country at the moment.
I’m happy to say that LOUD HORIZON and ARTROCKER predicted big things for THEATRE ROYAL way back even before their first album was recorded. With airplay coming these days from Radio 6 Music, Radio 2 (Steve Lamaq) and a growing number of U.S. radio stations also ‘playlisting’ them, feel free to label us smug smart-arses!
(Released through The Preservation Society Presents, on 19th November 2012)