If there’s one thing Palaye Royale brothers Remington Leith, Emerson Barrett and Sebastian Danzig do not lack, it’s artistic vision and balls, with third album The Bastards intended to be an extravagantly adventurous step up and beyond previous releases Boom Boom Rooms (Side A) and (Side B), a spectacular evolution designed to take them to The Next Level.
The two Boom Boom Rooms were an enjoyable amalgam of My Chemical Romance modernity and a vintage Faces and Rolling Stones vibe, delivered by three youngsters who looked like they’d been at the Black Crowes’ dressing-up box. They also sound positively restrained when compared with The Bastards, which creaks beneath the huge weight of expectation and its own loud and lavish, hard-edged pop production values; subtle it is not.
Unsurprisingly, it’s also an album that wears its issues and bleeding heart on its fashionably frayed sleeve, and just a glance down the playlist speaks volumes: Masochist, Anxiety, Lonely, Nervous Breakdown, Nightmares (Coming Down) and Massacre, The New American Dream. This album is way heavier than their earlier material, sonically and also lyrically; we have mental health problems, drugs (prescription and otherwise), guns, death and destruction – all that good stuff, revved up to critical mass and primed to explode like a multi-megaton firework display of misery over the Las Vegas strip.
Just to add an unexpected twist, The Bastards also ties into an arty mythos the band have been developing for several years, although it’s not essential to understanding the songs, of which the top track has to be the Marilyn Manson-esque Massacre, The New American Dream, an impassioned protest song about spiralling gun violence in the US, on which the band sound almost like disciples of the God of Fuck.
Elsewhere, Nightmares (Coming Down) appears to have War Pigs spliced into its DNA, while there’s some Stonesy swagger in Nervous Breakdown – although Remington sounds like he’s well past his nineteenth.
Thankfully, Stay, Fucking With My Head and Hang Onto Yourself dial back the almost overwhelming sonic clutter a touch, although for the most part there’s no vocal, riff or drum beat on this album that isn’t radically retooled in some way.
Ambitiously over-reaching from start to finish, The Bastards is the sound of a band relentlessly pushing themselves creatively to broaden their artistic identity. With a step change this bold at this point in their career, who knows where Palaye Royale will head next.