Words you might associate with Royal Blood, the riff-heavy duo widely credited with Bringing Rock Back: bruising, relentless, heavy. But not slinky. No, never slinky.
Yet ‘Where Are You Now?’ now, the latest track from these south coast boys, vocalist and bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher, is defiantly slinky. Hell, it’s sexy. Readers, you might even describe this new song as louche. Well, that makes sense when you hear it features on the upcoming new soundtrack for Vinyl, the Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese-produced HBO series about the burgeoning music scene in 1970s New York.
The duo was inspired by the trailer for series one of the show – and, in particular, by the main character of flash record label executive Richie Finestra (Bobby Cannavale). “Hearing Richie Finestra talk about the first time you heard a song that made your hairs on the back of your neck stand up or made you wanna dance or kick someone’s arse,” Kerr has said. “I just wanted to write a song that gave me that sort of buzz.”
And ‘Where Are You Now?’ does just that. It’s worth repeating, at this stage, that Kerr is to be described as a “bassist and a vocalist.” Royal Blood were always extraordinary for the fact that they were a guitar band without a guitar, exploiting Kerr’s technical wizardry and resourcefulness to make them sound like one. Yet this new track eschews that novelty factor, with licks of guitar following the glam rock stomp of the introductory drums. The sexually charged, shimmying guitar of the verse gives way to a explosive riff you might readily associate with the band, at which point Kerr sneers, “I’ve tasted every potion / It don’t taste like you.” Damnit, that’s hot.
Rock music hasn’t sounded this sexy since Arctic Monkeys released AM, which is fitting since Royal Blood gained masses of attention when Monkeys drummer Matt Helders wore their t-shirt during the Sheffield band’s barnstorming 2013 Glastonbury set. In fact, if Kerr and Thatcher were, like Alex Turner and co, to team up with desert rock God Josh Homme, it might sound like ‘Where Are You Now” – randy, desperate, and degenerate as fuck.
The classic rock riff of the chorus is business and usual, the slinky chorus more Queens of the Stone Age-style. A taster for the upcoming album? Here’s hoping.