The Blacklist Royals have thrown me on this one. Part of me thinks they want to be a modern day indie Bob Dylan, which in my opinion would not be a totally negative effort; however, the other part of me thinks that maybe they just accidentally channeled Dylan with their unpolished vocals. Either way, they have released a nice summer album. The imperfections offer an unsuspecting breath of fresh air. It seems like they had no desire to auto tune or tweak anything, like they wanted the listener to feel like he or she sat in a room listening to them play. No fluff. No polish. No gloss. Just a raw, personal concert between you and Blacklist Royals.
The instrumentals have a solid, upbeat indie style with a garage band tone. The guitar hums with an echoing sound found mostly in jam bands and the summer of love. The drums lay down a steady, yet unkempt foundation that ties together the sometimes-off-key vocals. The album has a dissonance to it that does not quite fit, but after a couple of listens to Die Young With Me, the listener becomes accustomed to the unruliness.
The title track, “Die Young With Me” shows off some rougher vocals. These scratchy pipes add a new twist to the record and really bring out the band’s positive assets. The album could have used a bit more of this style of singing, it suits the music much better. That being said, the gang vocals in “Heart on Fire” also shine. It livens up the album. Even with a fun little guitar lick and catchy rhythms, if the vocals falter and fail to really connect with the rest of the song, a track can loose you. But, Bob Dylan is Bob Dylan, and heaven knows he never bothered to sing perfectly to standard. And just like old Dylan himself, the lyrics are what really matter. Blacklist Royals’ delivery comes not from hitting the best notes for the sake of it, but saying the words precisely as they mean to. Die Young with Me has some interesting tales for which I had to, with the most brutal honesty, struggle though the album to hear. Many people may find the journey through the story more enjoyable, but vocals make or break it for me.