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REVIEW - Grande Royale - 'Carry On' (Album - The Sign Records)

I don't need much persuasion to review an album released on Sweden's The Sign Records with their superb roster of bands plying their trade of rollicking, punky, garage rock sounds - think The Hellacopters and Backyard Babies for comparison. Jonkoping, Sweden's Grande Royale returned last month with their fifth studio album 'Carry On' and it's an electric, breathless album of eleven tracks in thirty-two minutes that simultaneously harks back to classic early 70s rock and 90s punk/garage-rock idioms.

Having dispensed with some of the production touches from previous album 'Take It Easy' (choirs, soulful touches), 'Carry On' is a stripped back, raucous, rousing record that will have heads shaking and hips moving as it mixes driving punky garage rock rhythms with melodic guitar playing and catchy, hooky choruses. The 'elastic' rhythm section playing of Samuel Georgsson (bass) and Johan Hall (drums) is supple and pounding and is topped with Andreas Jena's part Stonesy, part MC5, part Lizzy guitar work that weaves in and out of Gustav Wremer's throaty and gritty vocals. No one song overstays its welcome - most being under three minutes - yet there's enough space to allow them a few quiet passages, such as the intricate vocal breakdown before the final chorus of 'Bang', and there's some nifty chord changes all through the record - check out the middle eight of 'Troublemaker' and the song structures of 'Let It All Go' and 'Not The Same'.

Opener 'Troublemaker' sets the tone of the record in its first twenty seconds with a guitar riff and drum fill ushering in a tune part boogie, part driving rocker with a great chorus, great guitar solo and middle eight - all in 2 minutes 20 seconds. 'One Of A Kind' with its impressive vocal work and 'Bang', a slightly glam stomp with a killer chorus ('Are you ready for the bang, bang....) completes a great trio of opening tracks while towards the end of the record 'Just As Bad As You' (featuring Dregen from The Hellacopters and Backyard Babies) is a full throttle rocker and contrasts nicely with the following, closing track 'Schizoid Lullaby', which slows the pace down to a '3/4 time ballad' complete with acoustic interludes and soaring guitar to finish. But it's the middle of the record that shines above the rest of this excellent record. The title track, a QOTSA flecked tune, is a melodic gem with an awesome groove, 'Ain't Got No Soul' has an impossibly catchy chorus that will stick in the brain for days, and 'Staying Dry' would do Phil Lynott and Co proud whilst being the album's most commercial track with another belter of a chorus (which could have gone on for at least a minute and a half longer) and 'hit single' potential stamped all over it; these three tracks, for me, are the ones that raises the already great record up to the next level.

'Carry On' is a fabulous record that will please existing fans and hopefully gain Grande Royale a whole lot more. As the band will tell you, 'You Ain't Got Soul, unless you rock 'n' roll' - this album has soul, rock 'n' roll, grit, excitement and tunes in abundance. An absolute winner of an album!

'Carry On' is available on The Sign Records, all the major digital sites, and in red, green and black vinyl editions from Grande Royale's bandcamp page -

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