Album Review: Royal Forest – Spillway

royal_forest_spillwayFrom the first snippets of sound and previews of songs that preceded Royal Forest’s new album Spillway, I’ve been pumped for the release of this album. The band’s frontman Cody Ground has been a fixture in the Austin music scene for some time now, having released music in the band Loxly before moving on and forming Royal Forest.

Album track “John Denver” was featured in an episode of PBS show Hardly Sound when the band performed the song live in a Cesna airplane. This wasn’t the only exotic locale for recording sessions for Spillway—Royal Forest recently released a video for “Everyone Who Knows You” recorded and filmed inside a submarine. And it’s this kind of experimentation and fresh take on pop that makes Royal Forest and Spillway outstanding. The songs are lush mixes of accessible, even infectious pop that also challenge listeners by developing unusual and rich sonic palates.

Tracks like “Everyone Who Knows You” and “John Denver” are catchy indie rock gems that listeners are likely to find embedded in their minds for days. “Goldwallpaper,” “Castro,” and “Almost Done” provide rocking and carefully disjointed tracks that channel late 90s indie rock. Mid-album song “Broken Bow” rolls out beautiful piano that recalls John Lennon’s solo work and emerges as one of the record’s best cuts—a lovely, slow motion dream.

Royal Forest strips things down for “On the Spillway,” which ambles by delicately. Approaching its conclusion, Spillway cranks out a pair of upbeat indie-pop songs that feel cohesive but bear their own individual identities and merits. Spillway is an album of many impressive feats, perhaps primarily its ability to feel unified while exploring so many diverse sounds and musical approaches. It’s an underdog of an album that succeeds on excellent experimental pop, and makes a case for Royal Forest as a band to watch.

About author
Bryan Parker is a writer and photographer living and working in Austin, TX. He is the founder of blog Pop Press International and print journal True Sincerity and recently released his first book, a volume on Beat Happening in the 33 1/3 series.

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