Summer at Last: Reviewing PRATTS AND PAIN by Royel Otis

26/05/2024

Holly Hartford (she/her) reviews the newest album from Australian duo: Royel Otis

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Image by Tim Swallow

By Holly Hartford

Like sun rays tearing through the clouds, Royal Otis’ latest album PRATTS & PAIN is sure to be the sound of the summer.

When the Australian duo first appeared on my Spotify homepage, I didn’t realise I was about to listen to the same musical masters who were behind the viral Triple J cover of ‘Murder on the Dancefloor’. Now it all makes sense! With choral vocals reminiscent of Grouplove and MGMT, glossy lyrics drop the consciousness of speech and glide resonantly through nostalgic indie rock tunes, laced with addictive guitar melodies and energetic drum beats. Describing their own style as “simple”, “drunk pop” and “gibberish”, the pair began writing music in 2019 and released their debut studio album, PRATTS & PAIN, on 16 February 2024. With already 4.5 million listeners on Spotify, it sure looks as if their success is set to skyrocket.

The first track, ‘Adored’, sets the scene with breathless drums and a looping guitar riff, bouncing frantically around the fretboard. It’s fast-paced, making a quick getaway and we’re running alongside it, hoping we don’t get caught. The falsetto chorus is just a short burst across the scene, soon taking us back to the rhythmic hypnotism, with head-banging and adrenaline on the rise.

‘Fried Rice’ is next and without a doubt, this is the perfect song to blast with the windows down. A disorienting tremolo unfolds into an authoritative bassline accompanied by short, punchy guitar notes- a prodding melody that remains throughout. The verse builds to a rising crescendo in the chorus, intensifying into a surge of energy reminiscent of early 2000s pop rock. Conducted like a maestro by the vocals, the harmonising guitar lead perfectly lubricates the amalgamating chaos and brings us into a resonant cooldown: finally, time to catch our breath.

The third track is another definite favourite. ‘Foam’ slows down the pace with a steady, pulsing rapport between snare and suppressed cymbal, as if strutting down the street. It’s hard to not imagine the drumsticks in your hands, taking to the stage. Beachy guitar tones ignite the chorus, gliding smoothly through chords like riding a wave; a syncopated transition between chords amplifies the same pattern in the preceding verses, establishing possibly the most addictive rhythmic composition on the entire album.

‘Heading For the Door’ switches up the decisive lead melody for softer, electronic notes, sliding into an elevating harmony that glides energetically up and down. Heavy drums occupy the foreground, juxtaposing the delicate guitar tones in an emotional dichotomy perhaps symbolic of the song itself: the explosive anger of a departing partner and the extinguishing voice asking them to stay.

‘IHYSM’ bursts into high energy again, with chords bouncing from one side of the room to another. The drums are panting, the chorus teasing us into an ascending falsetto: “I can feel the weight// I can feel the weight of you”. ‘Daisy Chain’ similarly erupts into playful tones, childish and light, but building to a heavier rock chorus that undercuts the usual major key with a more minored, wincing notion: “Twisted flower/You got dirt all through my bed, It’s not ogre/ It ain’t over till it ends”.

‘Sofa King’ is so far the most streamed track on the album, already released in 2023 as part of an EP by the same name. Listeners are embraced by a carefree, scooping guitar riff, warmly serenaded by a cheeky tremolo in the background which blooms into the chorus and its singular, repeating declaration “You’re so fucking gorgeous”.

Closing the album with a different texture, ‘Big Ciggie’ ends our chaotic joyride with a fuzzy guitar tone and trumpeting bass. It’s clambering, almost clumsy and disoriented. Synonymous with the same bawdy, rash essence of youth embodied throughout the record, we may be stumbling home drunk in the dark, but that’s where the best memories are made. And although the rowdy vocals eventually fall silent, we’re ready to hit replay and do it all again.