For more or less the entirety of their decade-plus existence, there’s been very little to complain about with Royal Republic. Like their fellow Swedes and spiritual forebears The Hives, this isn’t a band concerned with pushing the envelope of garage-rock, but more with bending it in a way that avoids the sluggishness and ennui and places an emphasis on fun. They’re yet to best their debut We Are The Royal which, nine years later, still stands as a brilliantly quick and punchy example of tongue-in-cheek rock music, but when taken for what it is, it’s hard to really go wrong with their back catalogue as a whole. For as one note as they can be, they’ve learned how to play that note exceptionally well, and that’s respectable.
On the other hand though, the argument can and has been made that that can lead to Royal Republic being just as disposable as The Hives have often come across, especially when so many of the beats they play to have been lifted from that exact playbook. It’s not an unfair statement to make, sure, but it’s certainly not a true one, and Club Majesty aims to make that clearer than ever. At the very least, it proves that a lack of depth is not synonymous with a lack of quality, as while Club Majesty is roughly about as far away from high art as is possible to get, it doesn’t skimp on some absolutely riotous moments, blending a simple, easygoing garage-rock base with the slickness and sharpness of funk and disco in a way that shoots straight for the joy centre of the brain. Granted, it’d be nice if there was a bit more here, but as it stands, Club Majesty is almost entirely the sort of easy fun that always has a place in modern rock.
And again, that’s almost entirely because Royal Republic have a knack for keeping things so lightweight and simple that all of their efforts can be focused on keeping the execution as quick and loose as possible. It’s why Like A Lover immediately sticks out as a profound low point, throwing any of that pre-established ethos aside for a garage-rock clunker that could’ve easily be left on the cutting room floor, if only to trim away the one major instance of flab this album really has. Otherwise, this is remarkably solid stuff across the board, building on the infectious struts and cheeky exuberance founded early on with Fireman And Dancer and running with it. What’s more, Royal Republic prove incredibly good at circumventing the pitfalls could come from their lack of sonic diversity, simply by ‘roiding up the grooves to a level where the lockstep groove of Blunt Force Trauma and the clacking porno guitars of Flower Power Madness could be running on tremendous inertia alone. Of course, with a force of personality like Adam Grahn at the helm, that alleviates a lot of pressure that would be piled upon lesser bands at this point, as he embodies the same hilariously clueless but self-aware sexual swagger as The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins, and carries it in the same cartoonish, overblow fashion that makes it all so likable. He regularly feels like the galvanising force behind the freshness this band pushes, and for what’s needed to give Club Majesty that oomph needed to keep Royal Republic from ending up in the garage-rock doldrums, it’s frankly impressive how often they’re able to keep it together.
And that’s not to say that this is a classic or it’ll be overlooked as an unsung gem, but that’s not the case. At this point, Royal Republic know where their place is, and for as tempting as it could be to play to such a rigidity that those boundaries might enforce, they’re having fun with it, and that’s hard to begrudge them. It certainly helps when, for ephemeral, often mindless party-rock, Club Majesty can regularly press all the right buttons to succeed, but there’s still a few tricks that Royal Republic have that can take this beyond just a bit of fun to make for a genuinely good time. It’s hardly album of the year material or anything, but sometimes, this is exactly what’s needed, and Royal Republic continue to be among the best doing it.
For fans of: The Hives, Danko Jones, The Hellacopters
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Club Majesty’ by Royal Republic is released on 31st May on Nuclear Blast Records.