Washington D.C. is home to many things, a lot of them not worth mentioning, but a vibrant local music scene is a part of the history for the nation’s capital. Broke Royals do and will continuing deserving a place in that history based on their past recordings, but they reach a new level with their latest release Saint Luxury. It is a fourteen track concept album centered around a personal journey – in this case, the title character is an angel who has come to earth searching for her own answers in a world full of pain and strife. The band fleshes out this lofty narrative with aplomb and the songwriting drew me into its web from the first listen. It is a release begging to be revisited so you can fully appreciate its riches – the songwriting possesses a deceptive directness and the wordplay is inexhaustible without ever straining belief or miring listeners in self indulgence. This is no small achievement.
None of the album’s achievements are small. Many of the vocal driven songs included on Saint Luxury are built around arrangements with a wide scope and five star production. If this is an indie effort by anyone’s definition, then I think mainstream efforts need to sound more like indie productions. Few songs reflect that better than the album’s title song. Broke Royals are masters of creating space for songs to breathe and the title track has a surplus of such moments Cross and Basnight manipulate with a deft hand. I applaud their resistance to adopting traditional guitar solos into their songs, but that doesn’t mean their playing doesn’t shine.
The same mastery of dynamics greeting listeners with the title song continues with the third track “Bad Chemicals” and we are introduced to some hallmark elements of their style reappearing throughout the whole album. The music falls away sometimes and we are left with nothing but vocals for a few moments – these moments contrast well with their rich musical arrangements. “Love & Tatters” opens with keyboards remaining in the mix throughout the entire song and the interesting drum pattern gives it a different feel than earlier tracks. It is another top shelf lyric, as well, climaxing with one of the album’s best choruses. It is one of the longer songs on Saint Luxury, but never tests listeners’ patience.
“Can’t Say” is one of the more straight forward tracks on the album and has an energetic tempo, but it is one of the rare moments when the lyrics feel a little more paint by numbers than other cuts. This isn’t an indication of any real fall off in quality but, instead, speaks to the high bar the band sets for themselves with this album. The drumming is authoritative and pushes the song hard towards its inevitable conclusion. They embrace some classic guitar crunch on the song “The World Is Ours” and it marks one of the few moments on Saint Luxury that can be considered an outright anthem. It is also a sign of the band’s flexibility that they can move from the spacious textures dominating many of the songs into something much harder and ready to brawl.
The song “After All” is one of the more considered tracks on the album and has an unusual texture thanks to the guitar work and drumming alike. I like the lyrics a great deal, as well, and think this is another prime example of how the band’s wont for never wasting a note translates over to their lyrics as well. The finale “This Is Really Happening” has a similar spirit. It is a clear closer thanks to the step by step development it embraces and the same bent for utilizing dramatics rises to the fore for a final time along with a stellar vocal. Broke Royals have reached an impressive peak with this release and it deserves to find the widest possible audience.