After four years, Toronto synth pop trio Dragonette is back, but “Royal Blues” might not be what you expected.
The band’s fourth studio album is filled with thirteen dance tracks that provide easy listening and could inspire some lighthearted fun. Still, it would be hard to differentiate from a list of top 40 songs.
“Royal Blues” is a little bit slower and more serious than previous albums, which speaks to a new level of maturity for the band. Although the album is expertly produced, it doesn’t have that unique feel that fans have come to expect in the past.
“Secret Stash” and “Let The Night Fall” have gotten a lot of radio airplay, but are reminiscent of Dragonette’s extremely successful collaboration with Martin Solveig in 2010 for the repetitive but peppy “Hello”. Both are positive catchy pop anthems that could easily be the next hits for the band.
“Body 2 Body” has also been a popular track on the album with an upbeat melody, but it simply isn’t breaking any new ground in terms of the lyrics. It’s the never-ending story of a couple breaking up and finding their way back together, but it’s just not meant to be.
The change of tune is justified when heartbreak arises within the band. While front woman Martina Sorbara and bassist Dan Kurtz are married, they have been reportedly separated since 2013. This undoubtedly changed the band’s creative process. During the creation period, instead of collaborating during the songwriting stage, Sorbara wrote lyrics and Kurtz produced the material. This was the first time they hadn’t collaborated on the lyrical side of the music.
The pair’s relationship could also change how you listen to the album. During the first listen of “Royal Blues”, I had no idea that they had split up. Their relationship changed my perspective on the lyrics and showcased how personal the album is underneath the catchy hooks.
The pair has said that making the album helped them sort through their emotions, but the album doesn’t delve too deeply into the emotional side. But then again, how deep can dance music get?
Although it must have been a challenging feat, the new dynamic in their relationship didn’t put a damper on their sound and they haven’t let their relationship get in the way of their music.
The situation may have inspired some of the slower, more thoughtful songs on the album.
“Darth Vader” is a fun, self-empowered, dance party song with Sorbara singing “I’m going to do it for myself for a change.”
The emotional gems of the album are “Sweet Poison” and “Detonate”. These tracks are the only ones that veer away from the rest of the album that tends to have overly repetitive lyrics that likely already have several club remixes. The almost-a-ballad “Love Can’t Touch Me Now” also seems to comment on the couple’s complicated relationship, but doesn’t dig as deep as the other tracks.
Sweet Poison” is a moment of vulnerability, and possibly the best glimpse the listener gets into the pair’s relationship. It’s bittersweet and emotional, but everything you would expect from a break-up song.
“Detonate” is a reflective track is soft and hopeful about dangerous love, that has exploded. It’s a positive spin on the explosion that likely happened in the band and the complications around love.
Almost every song is great, but production isn’t the problem in this case. Unfortunately, they aren’t different enough to be relevant next year.
For easy listening and a fun night with friends, “Royal Blues” is perfect, but it likely won’t stand out from the rest of their discography or the rest of the genre in the future.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: DRAGONETTE – ROYAL BLUES