A Trip to the Orthodontist Would Do Wonders
Louisiana-based sextet Royal Glow is attempting to find the middle ground between the crisp indie-prog-rock of Vampire Weekend and the emotional and musical depth of Arcade Fire. As a result, their sound is original yet slightly anachronistic, and not fully formed or fully realized. The eleven songs on their debut album, Glow, show range, talent and potential. Royal Teeth is a band with strong tools; they just need to figure out exactly how and where to use them.
Formed in 2010, five of the six members, led by Gary Larsen on vocals and guitar, started showcasing their blend of melody and orchestration around New Orleans, but it was the addition of vocalist and percussionist Nora Patterson that completed their sound. That opinion is supported by the way Patterson’s smooth, high voice plays off Larsen’s lilting, over-emotional delivery. Her harmonies on “Vagabonds” contrast with Larsen’s harsh style, softening it, much the same way Regine Chassagne’s soprano grounds Win Butler’s theatrical style in Arcade Fire. First single “Wild” begins with a mock-steel-drum sound that seems to confuse the band’s mission– calypso doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of Glow. The subjects are heavy– songs about saying goodbye, about being there for someone, about losing love, and the weight of the lyrics make Glow a bit of a downer, though the melodies themselves are rock-solid and generally upbeat.
The songs where Patterson takes at least some of the lead vocals (“Monster,” “Miss La” and “We Can Glow”) support that idea that she completes the band; one wonders if she should be featured more prominently, but she might not quite have the charisma to carry the majority of the album. Larsen, on the other hand, has charisma oozing from his pores, but his voice alternates between engaging and annoying.
Instrumentally, like their influences, there is much going on with a variety of guitars as well as keyboards and other programming, and most of it works very well, but some of it sounds gratuitous. Once Royal Teeth strike the perfect balance of all of these ingredients and homogenize it into a modern, focused pattern, they could be a “next big thing.”