Royel Otis – ‘Sofa Kings’ EP review: Aussie indie upstarts let the good times roll

The duo have bags of hooks and charm, and are updating the ramshackle energy of 2010s indie-pop with a sleeker, more efficient sound

The pursuit of young, dumb fun defines Royel Otis. It’s rare they don’t look like they’re having heaps of it: in their recent music videos, they don their best disguises, dressing up as bandits on the run (‘Motels’) and ‘50s prom kings (‘I Wanna Dance With You’). The Sydney-based duo, made up of best pals Royel Madden and Otis Pavlovic, are seemingly intent on having as much of a laugh as possible, making big cloudbursts of pop songs that view the world through a woozy, optimistic haze.

That spirit glimmers through the band’s third EP, ‘Sofa Kings’. “Some music can be so serious, or deep and meaningful, but with us, everyone is invited to the party,” Pavlovic recently told NME, expressing Royel Otis’ desire to break out of Australia’s indie scene and take their exuberant sense of self-belief to festivals across the globe, including an appearance at Reading & Leeds in August. It isn’t exactly a revolutionary outlook, but across this seven-track collection, the NME 100 graduates execute it with real determination.

Following 2022’s ‘Bar & Grill’ EP – which housed breakthrough hit ‘Oysters In My Pocket’ – ‘Sofa Kings’ could only be made by a band who have spent years listening to vibrant 2010s indie acts like The Drums and Grouplove, alongside baggier forebears like The Charlatans. Drawing from this pool of influences means that Royel Otis know how to craft undeniable hooks, familiar enough to satisfy passive listening while simultaneously hinting at a more curious and expansive sound to come. Smelling faintly of SPF 50, the humid bounce of ‘Razor Teeth’ is concise and joyful, while the looping refrains of ‘Kool Aid’ are wrapped up in overdub. Even with its frenzied pace and vocal effects, the latter track still feels vibrant, not overstuffed.


‘Sofa Kings’ is ultimately a transitional moment for Royel Otis, even if it feels like a mixed bag in places. Not every song clicks – take the sluggish ‘Letter For Roy’, which slips into anonymity when placed next to the glistening, Beach Boys-referencing ‘Going Kokomo’. At their very least, however, there is always something within each track to keep your attention; the melodies are sleek and memorable, even in the moments where they are clouded by excess rather than enhanced by it.

The EP’s standout moment is its title track, which pushes Royel Otis’ musical ethos of efficiency front and centre, stripping away any spare moving parts to focus solely on a massive, starlit hook. Ridiculously catchy without being gimmicky, it’s here where Madden and Pavlovic sound delighted to be nearing their full potential, and that giddiness will likely increase tenfold when they truly nail the radiant and nimble sound they are searching for.


royel Otis sofa kings

  • Release date: March 31
  • Record label: House Anxiety/OURNESS



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