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AAA Music | 28 September 2020

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ROYAL FOREST – Spillway

| On 26, Jul 2013

RoyalForest_Spillway_artwork_2Royal Forest are a five-piece band from Austin, TX who, according to their press release use ‘analog tape loops in recordings and live at shows’ and strive to ‘reinvent their songs in fresh ways.’ If you take the time to listen to the track on their bandcamp site – a version of a song found on this album, apparently recorded on a plane – you will hear that they certainly do strive to ‘reinvent’ their songs.

The humming bass line underscoring the psychedelic tones of ‘Everyone Who Knows You’ creates a strong starting point for Royal Forest’s LP, Spillway. This is a track that seems to incorporate the experimentalist nature of recent years, pioneered by artists like Deerhunter and Beach House along with the nostalgia of psychedelia and the grungy shades of the early 90s.

Unfortunately, the promise of the opening track quickly fades to mediocrity; tracks like ‘John Denver’ and ‘Broken Bow’ signal the start of something that sounds like something Coldplay decided to leave on the cutting room floor of their earlier albums rather than something Nirvana never got the chance to record. There are moments of saving grace that grab the listener’s attention for a short while; ‘Gold Wallpaper’ is a melodic treat, drifting and spinning with a certain amount of style with harmonics reminiscent of The Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs; whilst the trippy, echoing vocals, full of reverb may be familiar with Tame Impala fans.

You begin to get the feeling listening to Spillway, that what the Texan five-piece really have here is an extended player, not quite a long one. Had they stuck to a shorter format, I may well be reviewing a taster of an interesting band who has done their upmost to push their creative energies. Instead I merely hear an album that – despite Royal Forest’s innovative and aeronautical production techniques – doesn’t quite have wings enough to take flight.

Will Pye