Four years have passed since Dragonette‘s last (and best) album Body Parts. Since then, they’ve expanded their circle of collaborators, released some one-off singles, and previously married band-members Martina and Dan separated. These all contribute to their new record Royal Blues, with some of those one-off singles now among the tracklist, collaborators stepping up to return the favour, and the topic of separation is a common theme throughout.
Royal Blues opens with 2015’s single Let The Night Fall, a synthpop jam about the lazy part of a summer day leading up the party-filled nights. Despite predating the album by a year and a half, it’s a solid foundation for more of the synthpartypop that Dragonette have become known for.
Like their prior three records, Royal Blues has lots of booze, dancing and that feeling of invincibility that comes with being the perfect level of intoxicated. What makes this record different is that much of partying is post-breakup. It’s the rebound, or in the case of songs like Sweet Poison, running back because you just can’t quit.
It’s also their most mainstream-sounding album. In part due to the shift pop music has made toward moderate electronic dance styles led by producers like Robin Schulz and the Chainsmokers, leading to sounds that dominated the charts through acts like Justin Bieber, Tove Lo and Carly Rae Jepsen, and also because they’ve pulled back on the camp factor. Songs like High Five and Darth Vador feel like a second-rate Riot or Big Sunglasses and are the exception rather than the focal points, indicating the members of Dragonette are taking things a little more seriously, albeit not while sober.
Royal Blues is a solid album that continues to highlight the evolution of the band, but with a lack of variation from the pulsating mid-tempo beats and fewer instant hooks, it feels longer than it should. It’s filled with great tracks but they’d do better outside the album where they don’t drown each other out.
1. Let The Night Fall
2. Body 2 Body
3. Lonely Heart
4. Royal Blues
5. Sweet Poison [featuring Dada]
6. Secret Stash [featuring Mike Mago]
7. Save My Neck
8. Darth Vader
9. High Five
11. Love Can’t Touch Me Now
12. Lost Teenagers
13. Future Ghost