Music Reviews

ALBUM REVIEW: Palaye Royale – The Bastards

Flamboyant art-rock trio Palaye Royale have ramped up the musical theatrics for their long awaited third studio album, The Bastards. As far as record release cycles go, The Bastards era by comparison to its counterparts, Boom Boom Room (Side A) and Boom Boom Room (Side B), has been a challenging campaign so far. From tackling troubles with UK venues, to facing the cancellation of the UK/EU run as a result of the current COVID-19 outbreak, overall it’s been a turbulent time in the run up to 29th May. However with successful pop-up shops, some Palaye in the parks and several shows under the belt, the band have defeated these difficulties, as Remington Leith, Sebastian Danzig and Emerson Barrett of Palaye Royale have produced an adrenaline fuelled rock n’ roll record with The Bastards. 

The Bastards begins with the song Little Bastards, a thrilling track that takes the listener and catapults them into this wild visionary world, which Palaye Royale continue to portray throughout the remainder of the record. The song starts with a low and creeping riff that welcomes us into the aforementioned utopian world, where this band of brothers’ lives are being reflected upon. “It’s a world that started off with intentions where the island encouraged free thinkers and artists to exist and, as everything does in life, eventually it becomes this political power and evil toxicity that comes with everything,” elaborates drummer Emerson Barrett, as the journey into this unknown territory has only just begun, as Leith’s screamed vocals, Danzig’s electrifying guitar solo and Barrett’s audacious drumming in the single’s breakdown sets the tone for this frightening world we are entering. 

Bringing such a creative concept to vivid life means the band have had to step-up musically, and The Bastards is a brilliant example of how far Palaye have perfected their dexterity for making music. Palaye Royale have amped up the intensity on the instrumentals dominating their third full-length effort, from flourishes of experimental electronics on the more mainstream leaning Hang On To Yourself, the grandiose strings on the Bond theme-esque Tonight Is The Night I Die, to the band’s familiar glam rock roots in both full-on lead single Fucking With My Head and the fuzzed up distortions on deep cut Nightmares.

Lyrically, the band have brought their best songwriting to the fore in order to follow this elaborate expedition from the older Island Of Obsidian in 1888 to a modernised world, where political parties and a toxic society have taken over our freedom of individual expression in 2020. Something Leith is an advocate of in the album, admitting: “We need a little honesty and a little truth. The world is getting so tainted by everyone trying to be so fucking perfect and so goddamn PG and trying to walk this line of not trying to offend anyone. People need to be themselves, just for twenty minutes at least.”

Single Massacre, The New American Dream is a track that takes on this new found frankness, in terms of its songwriting style. Addressing the important issue of gun violence and subsequent substance abuse, utilised as a coping mechanism to endure the epidemic in America, the lyrics lean into this dangerous and destructive reality: “Feed pills to society / Give you a gun now there’s a killing spree / I’ve given up on America’s racist agenda / I’m fucked up from prescriptions and antidepressants.” 

Similarly on the open approach, the Las Vegas-based band tackle the subject of mental health on Anxiety, Lonely and Nervous Breakdown, a prevalent topic that has touched the life of the Palaye Royale frontman. Lonely hits home hard for Leith, as the track and accompanying music video candidly recalls back to his difficult, and deeply personal, physical and mental struggles during childhood. Speaking on the lyrics to Lonely, he adds: “Lonely is about the mental and physical abuse I endured as a child. Growing up, I went through so much shit and at points felt so low I couldn’t see a way out. It has effected me deeply throughout my life but I want the world to know that no matter what you’re going through, if I can make it out on the other side, so can you.”

Following on from this, both Anxiety and Nervous Breakdown share similar themes that tackle this pepped up outrage Palaye have for the suffering of today’s youth, all from a refreshingly honest perspective. The first, Anxiety, aggressively displays dark emotions towards the fear and fright such feelings bring with them. Similarly, the second song Nervous Breakdown is a direct visual continuation from where the video for predecessor Fucking With My Head left off, and is also inspired by Emerson’s upcoming graphic novel, which takes a deep dive into the concepts explored throughout the series of visuals released during The Bastards era. Audibly, the track showcases the severe stress one encounters during a period of intense mental distress, as the inability to cope with life’s challenges proves all too much for Remington, revealing “I start to feel myself panic again / When all the blood rushes to my head / My heart has stopped, I’m falling to the ground / Gonna have myself another breakdown.”

The album ends on Redeemer, an eerily beautiful ballad sure to send chills down your spine. An orchestral like piano introduces the song, its chords cold feeling and atmospheric as can be before Leith’s melodic vocals move in, with every word tinged with genuine emotion. Overall, Redeemer rounds off the record on a cathartic, evocative and sombre note, that plays perfectly into the more haunting sound heard throughout The Bastards. 

Palaye Royale have pulled an attention grabbing album out of the bag, one that blows the band’s 2016 an 2018 LP’s out the park. From lead single Fucking With My Head to standout deep cut Nightmares, The Bastards strikes a bold balance between unapologetically addressing prevalent issues amongst today’s youth, whilst sending shockwaves to the senses with dark, angry yet vulnerable music throughout the entirety of the record. 

9/10

Standout Tracks: Fucking With My Head, Nervous Breakdown, Anxiety, Lonely, Nightmares 

For Fans Of: Creeper, Cemetery Sun, Dead! 

Written by: Katie Conway-Flood

Katie Conway-Flood
Katie Conway-Flood is a music journalist, music publicist and general band enthusiast. For several years, since graduating university with a first class degree in music business, Katie has written single, album and live reviews, and regularly contributed to news stories and feature pieces for a plethora of online music publications. Katie is otherwise a pop-punk, pop-rock listener and ethical vegan.