These Reigning Days – Opera of Love review

TRDFor fans of the likes of White Lies and Muse, we give you mainstream rock trio, These Reigning Days. After two years of touring they released their debut record last month, drawing attention from the likes of BBC Introducing, and with an album hitting the fine line between accessible and powerful as well as this does, it’s not hard to see why. Produced by Yoad Nevo (Goldfrapp, Moby), there’s a clear expert layer to the record that speaks of experience beyond the band’s years.

From the off, the piece knocks you back a few steps with it’s sheer, clear-cut originality and power. Yes, there are obvious influences from the bands it could be likened to, but there’s also a defining organic sound that pulls the record back to its roots that sets it apart. It’s almost impossible to believe that the release is a debut, for its confidence and force-of-nature tracks to shock energy into you.

One of the longest off the record, opener Stand Down gives very little away about the release, and this control – only letting you see so much of the music, leaving space for unexpected turns later in – in itself becomes a defining feature. Bold vocals carve the track out, and the somewhat subdued instrumental gives you chance to focus exclusively on the lyricism. There’s a declarative honesty in the empowering beat, forging a strong build-up before an abrupt close.

A slightly disorientating start to Changes sets the release in stead of the subsequent tracks, with an almost dance edge creeping into the rock sound – a marker of their mainstream taste for music. By third Too Late there’s no doubt that the band have almost endless capability; each solid start is a derivative of the same vibe, but varied enough to prevent the common samey effect many debut records inevitably slip into. Lyrics designed for gang vocals and a soaring beat make this tracks all set and ready for a full-on arena show.

There’s no confusion as to why Opera Of Love serves as not only a single, but the title track of the record; infectious lyrics on a powerful backdrop create the set up for a perfect radio-rock track. I Need Time further pushes the boundaries of the band’s achievement, winding in a second vocalist to add a calmer edge to the album, a different slant that’s returned to later in the record, in English Rose, where sentimental lyricism takes hold of the focus. This sentimentality is touched on again in Shine On, and these romantically moving pieces are interspersed with the dance-rock that commandeers the record.

Penultimate Satellite kicks in with the attitude of Green Day’s more recent work, a surprisingly turn so close to the end of a record, but the romantic hint remains among the soaring riffs. The cliche of closing with a piano is tackled so head on that you can criticise them for taking an easy route on; it’s a conscious decision to fall into this pothole. A sub-two minute finale, In The End, winds the piece up nicely – despite a few touchy moments with hoarse vocals.

It’s incredibly difficult to fault this record; there’s no doubting the confidence it exudes, and the contrasting arrogance and subtlety with which it shows it. “Impressive” does this no justice, this is one of the albums of the year.

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