Review & Full Album Premiere: Grande Royale, Breaking News


[Click play above to stream Breaking News by Grande Royale. Album is out Friday, Aug. 25, via The Sign Records.]

Whatever one’s associations with the phrase they’ve chosen as the title for their third album, Breaking News, that’s not Grande Royale‘s fault. Chances are the Jönköping-based heavy rockers had some motivation in mind behind the choice, but without knowing the media climate in their native Sweden, I can only go by the lyrical content of the 10-track/34-minute The Sign Records long-player, including the title-track and catchy toe-tappers like “Brake Light,” “Got to Move,” “Devil’s Place” and closer “I’m on the Loose,” and note it doesn’t seem to be a commentary either on the media or the greater sociopolitical sphere. That’s something of a relief coming from the five-piece of guitarists Gustav Wremer and Andreas Jenå, vocalist Hampus Steenberg, bassist Calle Ljungström and drummer Mackey Gustafsson, who worked with producer Nicke Andersson (The Hellacopters, Entombed, Death Breath, etc.) to instead evoke the positive, warm and bordering-on-wholesome Thin Lizzy-esque bounce of “Live with Your Lie” and classic rockers like the low-end-driven “One Second” and proto-motoring “R’N’R Business.”

Front to back across the offering, which follows Grande Royale‘s self-released 2014 debut, Cygne Noir, and the 2015 follow-up, No Fuss – A Piece by Resolute Men, the band basks in a classic heavy rock sunshine and analog depth, leaving no room for pretense when it comes to bringing forth ’70s influences as filtered through more modern garage push. Yes, The Hellacopters are a factor in their sound, but the harmonies in the four-minute “Daily Illustration” and in the hook of the suitably thrusting “Got to Move” add an individualized edge to the proceedings, and the overarching impression of Breaking News — again, despite any tragic or otherwise unfortunate connotations the words “breaking news” might convey — is so inviting and friendly to the ear that the listener is more inclined to embrace familiar aspects than be caught up in feelings of redundancy. In this way, Grande Royale effectively interpret ’70s, ’90s and ’10s rock without losing themselves in a mire of aping any one band’s sound in particular.

There’s not much mystery as to how the feat is accomplished: it’s the songwriting. I won’t take away from the natural sound Andersson‘s production brings to Jenå and Wremer‘s guitars or from Steenberg‘s crisp delivery throughout on vocals. Indeed, though the roots of their style are more toward the modern/organic than the we-only-use-amps-from-1970 vintage worship — which is expensive, time-consuming and often difficult in terms of repairing busted gear — the balance of that naturalism with the tightness of their craft is perhaps what most of all dogwhistles Grande Royale‘s three albums’ worth of experience. Otherwise, with the plays between swing and urgency among cuts like “Devil’s Place” and “One Second” — shifts in tempo and push handled fluidly by Ljungström and Gustafsson — might find the band losing their grip in a way detracting from the memorability overall, but as it stands, Breaking News makes easy transitions between 7″-worthy cuts and thereby sets up a classic-feeling full-length flow that holds on loosely for the duration and steers its audience with a subtle but firm guiding hand.

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Not that they make the journey especially difficult, either. From the opening come-on-let’s-go shove of “Know it All” through the more Southern-style organ flourish of finale “I’m on the Loose” — some Thin Lizzy again, maybe via Skynyrd — Breaking News holds onto its aural optimism, and whether it’s the channel-swapping interplay of start-stop riffs in the verses of the title-track all the while underscored by a steady bass and drum progression or the efficient mid-paced execution of “R’N’R Business,” it does so finding consistency of mood doesn’t need to necessarily come with a repetition of sonic ideas. This also relates to the quality of songcraft, but Grande Royale are able to carry through this vibe with chemistry between them and a variety of the basic impression each inclusion makes. The whole thing is even, balanced, smooth, but not at all falling into the trap of dullness to which those things might lead. There’s still an energy here in terms of the root performance.

I don’t know whether or not Grande Royale recorded Breaking News live in full, in part or at all, but the vitality they bring to their pieces would seem to have its foundation in stage-work one way or another, and the album benefits tremendously from that when it comes to tying the songs together and honing the momentum that moves from one into the next. Part of that stems as well from the fact that Breaking News, whether it’s in the individual tracks or the entirety built from them, doesn’t stick around long enough to wear out its welcome. Were it 50 minutes long instead of the tidy, ultra-manageable 34 that it is, that might not be the case, but even this correct editorial decision on the part of the band — knowing how much is enough — is a facet of their aesthetic worth appreciating, and like the clear-headedness of their verse/chorus structures, it speaks to the depth of consciousness beneath what on the surface is such an outgoing execution. That is, none of this is happening by mistake, on any level.

Rather, as one would hope for a third LP, Breaking News finds Grande Royale well in command of their style and sounding fully aware of who they are and who they want to be as a band. The tracks, while not necessarily reinventing classic heavy rock in their construction, are nonetheless refreshing for the sincerity of the group’s approach and the obvious value they place on attention to detail. As they also largely avoid the heavy ’10s boogie rock that has so largely affected the broader European underground, and as they avoid the woeful associations their choice of title could bring forth on the part of their listeners, it becomes even clearer that Breaking News is the work of professional-grade songwriters and that it is all the stronger for that. In other words: Don’t worry. It’s good news.

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One Response to “Review & Full Album Premiere: Grande Royale, Breaking News

  1. […] Die schwedische Band GRANDE ROYALE hat alle Songs ihres kommenden Album „Breaking News“ im Netz veröffentlicht: GRANDE ROYALE „Braking News“ Albumstream bei […]

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