Royal Republic. The Hives’ slightly more sophisticated counterparts. Royal Republic are an alternative rock band hailing from Malmö, Sweden. Consisting of rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist Adam Grahn, lead guitarist Hannes Irengård, bass guitarist Jonas Almén and drummer Per Andreasson. Today, I’m going to be looking at Royal Republic’s recently released fourth album, and my favourite album of 2016 (so far),”Weekend Man”.

“Weekend Man” is an album that jumps from style to style every few tracks, which can be heard clearly if you compare the album’s punk-inspired fourth song “People Say That I’m Over The Top” with the relatively soft, distortion free fourteenth song “American Dream”.

The album kicks off with intro track “Here I Come (There You Go)”, a song that sounds to me like it has a number of meanings lyrically. On one hand, the lyrical content could easily be read as a man finishing with a woman to focus on his career, which could be taken from the line “here I come (there you go)/I think it’s time I let you go/and get on with the show”. On the other hand, I personally believe that the words “Here I come” could serve as a fourth wall breaking message to the listener, “Here I come, get ready for this ass-kicking 45 minutes”. The song’s instrumentation is super pleasing to listen to, being led by crisp, distorted guitars and supported by pounding drums and perfectly applied bass guitar. The songs second section features a solo-like guitar riff that leads into a shuffle section of harsh, bright guitars. The song ends with a powerful outro complete with guitar smashing chords and furious drum fills. The song left me extremely satisfied as it was obvious that this was a very new, fresh sound that Royal Republic were bringing to the table without being too dissimilar to their first two albums.

Next up, we have “Walk!”. “Walk!” is a song that according to frontman Adam Grahn, based on the instrumentation rather than the lyrics. The lyrics are basically just about walking, but with an implication that you shouldn’t care about what other people think and you should do what you want to do. The songs instrumentation is an aggressive sounding combination of guitar chords, big bass and mean drums; that rather coincidentally inspire you to walk faster and farther. The song, although nothing particularly special and quite clearly a bit of filler, is still a satisfying listen – especially following the blazing intro song.

And now we’re onto the albums lead single & third track, “When I See You Dance With Another”. An infectiously catchy song about a man’s jealousy, I’d say that this song is signature Royal Republic. Featuring robotic drums, fuzz drenched bass, both reserved and manic vocals completed by high energy, distorted guitars; this song is almost a throwback to their signature songs “Underwear” and “Full Steam Space Machine” from their debut album “We Are The Royal”. The songs lyrics tell a story of a man’s jealousy towards a woman he is attracted to. “When I see you dance with another/I can’t bring myself not to bother”, the line suggests that the jealousy of the man is going to lead him into getting involved in the woman’s relationships. Further into the song we here lead singer Adam shouting the words “I can’t get you off of my mind” which would reinforce the implication of the lyrics. Further into the song the lyrics seem to take a dark turn, with lines such as “with every second/my heart gets colder” and “I can’t get ya/and if I can’t get ya/No one can”. The cool, simple riffs and thick sounding drum fills make this song a very enjoyable listen and furthers the album in a nice, satisfying way.

Track number four, “People Say That I’m Over The Top”. The song is a full on, balls out punk song. The song is a nice change of place from the relatively more mellow previous songs we’ve had. The song, as the title suggests, is about being “over the top” and opens with a badass bassline, before quiet vocals can be heard whispering the title of the song before it explodes into the full band intro. The first real line in the song is Adam boldly shouting that you “Can’t shut me down”. This song in particular really displays Adam Grahn’s vocal talents and how easily he can control his range. The song is an angry, cocky, punky jam which seems to serve as nothing but filler. A badass chunk of filler, to boot.

Track number five, “Kung Fu Lovin'”. I personally like this song a lot because of the somewhat humorous lyrics, which isn’t unfamiliar with a band that sang a song called “Underwear”. The track opens with a cool synthesiser riff, which is one of the first steps out of Royal Republic’s comfort zone, which then develops into a full band jam. The song talks about what appears to be a relationship breaking down, shown by the lyrics “people say I’m wasting my time/’cause you ain’t no good to me” and “letting you go/’cause you ain’t no good to me”. The song also seems to deal with Adam trying to come to grips with his relationship breaking down. The lyrics “stuck in the middle/trying to understand” would imply that he’s stuck between listening to the people who say he’s “wasting his time” and his own thoughts. He also mentions that “kung fu lovin’/is gonna tear us apart/you’re a roundhouse kick to my heart”, which seems like a far-fetched jokey analogy. The song is a cool, good listen.

Track six, and we’re at the titular track “Weekend-Man”. “Weekend-Man” is an even further step out of Royal Republic’s comfort zone. This song experiments with what sounds like an octave effect-laced riff and slow drum beat, comparable to Royal Blood’s “Ten Tonne Skeleton”. Adam states that the “Weekend-Man” is “like the Devil on your shoulder, who makes you do all the things you shouldn’t do. The fun stuff.”. The song appears to be about partying and having a good time, “I’m not a hippie/I just get stoned”, “Last one standing when it’s over”. The lyrics contain numerous references to partying and its obvious that the song serves as a direct ode to the “Weekend-Man”‘s party lifestyle. One of my personal high points on this album.

Track seven is “My Way”. Another song that appears to be filler, but filler that’s really, really trying. It doesn’t seem clear what the lyrics are talking about and the entire song seems to exist just to facilitate the powerful chorus that it boasts. This song is a personal low point on the album for me, and that’s really all there is to say. That said, the song is still enjoyable if you can get past the lack of meaning.

Track eight, “Follow The Sun”. “Follow The Sun” is another step out of Royal Republic’s comfort zone. Stripping away the distortion from their guitars and instead adding a ludicrous amount of fuzz to the bass guitar. The song is an extremely relaxing song, which is a stark contrast to the previous aggressive rock songs we’ve heard so far. The lyrics deal with a relationship ending and talk about moving on, acting stupid being okay and how you’re not the only one to deal with this type of situation. The song is probably my favourite example of how Royal Republic stepped out of their comfort zone and produced a fantastic piece of music.

Track nine, “Uh Huh”. Another balls out rock tune and the album’s third (and as of the the time of this publishing) final single. Remember what I said about this album jumping around in terms of style? This is the perfect example. This track spits in the face of the previous track, adding tonnes of distorted guitars, hard rocking drums and bass and growling vocals. The band described the lyrics as “stupid” and “fun” so it’s implied that there’s no real meaning to the lyrics. The song is just fun, short and sweet. Nothing more, nothing less.

Track ten, “Any Given Sunday” jumps style and is very similar to “Follow The Sun”. The song shares the same chilled out, relaxed style but with slightly distorted guitar, ska punk style guitars. The lyrics talk about always being there for a loved one and vice versa. The song is just an overall nice, mellow break from the high energy songs that make up the album.

Track eleven, “Baby”. The album’s second single and great song. Ironically, Royal Republic wrote the song with the mindset of “let’s make a shitty song so we can go home” and remarked that it ended up being one of the good ones. Again the lyrics seem to deal with a breakup but with the woman in question telling the protagonist “don’t take it personal”. The instrumentation in this song is just simple rock power chords and rock drum beat, which is a nice change of pace from some of the previous songs, such as “Weekend-Man”.

Track twelve, thirteen, fourteen and fifteen I’m going to talk about in one paragraph. This is where I personally believe the album loses its charm as none of these songs are memorable to me. “High Times”, “American Dream”, “Getting Along” and “Playball” just seem so uninspired to me compared to the otherwise mostly stellar rest of the album. Maybe I’m just being too harsh and in a few more listens they could have a growing effect on me, but as of this writing I view them simply as blemishes on a great record.

I give “Weekend Man” a solid 7/10.

What did you think of “Weekend Man”? Let me know.

Ryan.