Access Royale - City Of Paradigm
Being a particularly nerdy teenager in the late 90s meant that the first good music I ever really heard, discounting my mother's continuing obsession with The Police, was whoever was playing at The Bronze in this week's Buffy The Vampire Slayer. As such I have a personal weakness for glossy American indie rock. Listening to Washington DC's Access Royale felt like a nostalgia trip and, while nowadays I am more likely to be found listening to grittier British indie, it was a trip I thoroughly enjoyed.
'Ignite' really kicks off City of Paradigm in style, a big rev up of chords that explodes into the song. It's completely fitting for an album where the uniting theme is to "wake up" and enjoy your life, love and sexuality. In fact regarding the latter, the whole album has a well-executed predatory feel, best expressed in the sexy 'Captivity'; all animal imagery and bongo-esque drums.
It is very slick and well-produced also. Often I dislike that in an album, but the sheen sits more comfortably on Stateside shoulders and means the songs just roll over you smoothly and evenly. Like I said earlier, I tend towards more jagged, abrasive tunes normally and at first listen I wasn't so sure of this album. But it's a real grower in that pleasant way, where the more I listened the more I found to enjoy. Perhaps it's the similarity to the artists I listened to when I was younger, but it has ended my month as a musical comfort blanket. 'Home' especially is just waiting to be picked up and used by a teen drama and I don't mean that perjoratively (look what Chuck did for Frightened Rabbit).
What Access Royale have done is create an album that is somehow both familiar yet still original. None of the effects or subject matters are things I haven't heard before, but they've brought a freshness and a believability to it that makes it a satisfying listen rather than a dull one. 'No One Else Feels Like You', a dreamy, pulsating love song, enlivened by an interesting drum pattern and echoey vocals drawling original lyrics really showcases this talent to great effect.
I realise I haven't pulled out too many 'moments' from the album, which isn't because there are none, but because the whole thing just slides around you like oily silk. There's a ton of variation, but it's so cohesive as a whole that each song seems to swirl into the next so that I've been surprised over and again at how different each one sounds once I focus. I hate to use the word nice, but it has been nice. Nice to hear a style I haven't checked out in a while, nice to be wrapped up and soothed by glossily accomplished noise and nice to be gently grown upon over time. Very well played indeed.