Royal Coda
Royal Coda


3.5
great

Review

by Claire Q. STAFF
April 27th, 2018 | 47 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Dream interpretation

Royal Coda, sunken into the shadows of troubled nights, is a tragic dreamer. I say that for two reasons: firstly, that it is capable of mourning and reminiscing beautifully; secondly, that its aspirations to evoke the subconscious occasionally exceed its abilities. Compared to their peers, Royal Coda exercise more restraint: they avoid the mind-boggling chaos of A Lot Like Birds, the more dramatic flourishes of Sianvar. The heartache on Royal Coda is half-numbed, not always felt in lucidity.

With a pedigree founded on technicality, it’s fascinating to observe how Royal Coda rely so heavily on certain production choices to carry across the emotivity of Royal Coda. Joseph Arrington’s drumming, always malleable and nimble-footed, feels as if it’s riding on emotional turbulence, being dictated by the disorienting swirls of Sergio Medina’s guitarwork and Kurt Travis’ impassioned croons. What binds everything together is a subtle preference for the subdued: the guitar tones are slightly muted; reverberation smoothes their edges, adds the sensation of cool liquid, lets Kurt’s vocals layer and drift upwards. Synthesizers illuminate the background like blue candlelight in a dim room.

What, then, is the emotional intrigue of Royal Coda" As demonstrated by Kurt’s intensity and conviction, which both match the bluntness of his lyrics, it would be straight-forward heartbreak. But clearly the album aims for more. “Love Again” adds the most variety to the message: it’s a dreamy slow waltz into doom, ever so slightly indulgent in the way that Kurt’s notes are drawn out, that heavy distortion is applied to the bridge. It’s also the most sensual moment on an album defined mostly by its pain. Specifically, this is pain presented with some dignity, cushioned from the maudlin by the sense of distance and ambiguity provided by the atmosphere. This distancing might be a double-edged sword: either the album is nuanced and appropriately composed, or it lacks sufficient emotional punch. I favour the first stance because Royal Coda feels believable: even if restraint, and not nuance, was the only thing preventing it from over-indulging in suffering, there’s still much room for that suffering, in the process of being interpreted by the listener, to come across as multi-dimensional.

“De Rien” and “Suffolk”, then, are the true marks of over-indulgence by Royal Coda -- they’re ambient, somewhat groundless pieces on an album that is in no need of further ambience or vagueness. “Suffolk” might have been an overzealous attempt to experiment, to push the idea of “Royal Coda” as an album transcending swancore or post-hardcore; it’s a repetitive loop of Kurt humming over a simple piano motif, feedback encroaching over the last half of the song. Ideally, we’re supposed to believe that “Suffolk” is a distillation of the album’s atmosphere whose appeal will have been established by every other song promoting the same vibe, if only on a subliminal level. However, trying to establish this sort of hypnosis is jarring when Royal Coda is not, at its core, a hypnotic album -- dreamlike, yes, but its fundamental character is still restless, sprinting on the edges of consciousness.

I suppose what really matters is that Royal Coda leaves space for interpretation: emotionally, it’s plausibly complex (and instrumentally, it’s undeniably so). From the cool notes pooling alongside Kurt’s gentle singing on “Blood Thinner”, to the gorgeous ascension at the end of “Love Again”’s chorus, there’s an immediate tug at the heart-strings. Whether Royal Coda’s beauty is more than skin-deep is something I can’t answer, but the response may also not matter.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Drubbi
April 27th 2018


298 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

you're wrong

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
April 27th 2018


9458 Comments


Great review Claire. Haven’t checked this release yet but will soon

Kazooicide
April 27th 2018


9 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review. A promising debut to say the least.

Calc
Contributing Reviewer
April 27th 2018


16125 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

still such a great albummm

Tranqyl
April 27th 2018


313 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pretty spot on review. I love Kurt's vocals, and so I love this, but there's something so dreamy and obtuse about the album which is making it hard for me to get a real feel for it.

Digging: Forever Losing Sleep - I Lost Myself Again

coldheaven
April 27th 2018


4641 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like Suffolk lol

stuck_in_decades
April 27th 2018


814 Comments


excited to check this out!

OwMySnauze
April 27th 2018


1936 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Every track sounds the same. Boring unfortunately

SteakByrnes
April 27th 2018


14739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Great review Claire :] I love that second para, really paints a picture

Digging: Kurt Travis - There's a Place I Want to Take You

ProjectFreak
April 27th 2018


3611 Comments


this review rules as usual

album has its moments (Cycled Through the Past rules) but as far as swancore goes, No Place remains untouchable. also the closer feels like it's pretending to be that sample from Brand New's "Vices" but with a cheeky wink

XingKing
April 27th 2018


14588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the closer feels like it's pretending to be that sample from Brand New's "Vices" but with a cheeky wink [2]

SteakByrnes
April 27th 2018


14739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I still don't like the closer

stuck_in_decades
April 28th 2018


814 Comments


sergio said that when he wrote this he was going for a more alt rock sound rather than swancore, so i don't think they were aiming to be anywhere near as crazy as allb, dgd, sianvar ot anything else in that vein.

SteakByrnes
April 28th 2018


14739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Which explains why it isn't typical swancore, I dig it hard. Swancore is amazing, but we need some albums to be different

ScuroFantasma
Staff Reviewer
April 29th 2018


11687 Comments


Nicely written as usual Claire, I'm intrigued

Digging: Lyapis Trubetskoy - Kapital

SteakByrnes
April 29th 2018


14739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

This shit rules

KenboSlice
April 30th 2018


3092 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This shit rules. I love Kurt, Sergio, and Joe.

SteakByrnes
April 30th 2018


14739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Same, Sergio's sweet guitar melodies are great

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
April 30th 2018


41788 Comments

Album Rating: 2.6

wanted to like this but it's just Circa Survive-lite with some shoddy production



band could do good things in the future tho

Digging: The National - I Am Easy to Find

SteakByrnes
April 30th 2018


14739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

harsh



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