Album Review: Royel Otis – Pratts & Pain

[Ourness; 2024]

As Aussie duo Royel Otis bathe in the limelight brought to them by the success of their outstanding cover of Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s “Murder On The Dancefloor”, their second studio album Pratts & Pain is released. While it’s nice to see tradition reign and to see a band stay true to their established sound of big drums and easy-flowing guitar riffs, the new album is a tad lackluster at the end of the day. 

To break it down, the first and second tracks, “Adored” and “Fried Rice”, are quite predictable. They have a familiar feeling, about them that is hard-hitting, fast-paced, and typical of the indie genre. Now that by no means qualifies them as bad tracks, but they do nothing to spark a new interest or show a different side of the duo. “Fried Rice” does have some interesting lyrics that drive a point of continuity within the general themes of the album, which explores the facets of heartbreak and details a frenzy of failed relationships. 

“Foam”, one of the more engaging tracks, portrays the aforementioned tale perfectly as it seems to reference the onset of unwanted attention – and any mention of ketamine can’t indicate anything good. What truly sets “Foam” apart is that it has an almost tropical sound to it; there is something addictive to the way the guitar is paired with a set of bongos and how they just bounce joyfully about. Not to mention, the lyrics are especially catchy- “Slow down and keep my name out your mouth / Could burn your lot to the ground / Just to hear the sound / Of you crying”. It’s exactly what anyone who is feeling the slightest bit angsty about a situation-ship would want to scream in the car. 

“Sonic Blue” is true to its name, featuring a craze of an audible experience that is reminiscent of cruising full-speed down a hill with faulty brakes. It lyrically delves into the depressing subject of… you guessed it, a failed unrequited love. It is quite beautiful how this song while it is hectic instrumentally, while the message comes down to this simple line: “She’ll bleed all hearts yet mine the most / At least the one who loved her.” 

There’s not much to be said about “Heading For The Door” other than it is a slowdown from its predecessors and it continues to detail relationships that just are not working out. The same could be said about “Velvet,” with the added and impressive bonus that an 11-year-old played the drums on the track – and it’s easy to say that the drums are what keep this song afloat. 

Unfortunately “IHYSM” does not do much to excite the senses instrumentally, the inclusion of the claps is fun and would surely be enjoyable live, but in the grand scheme of the album, it is somewhat forgettable and just another track about a failed love. 

Eighth in the track listing we have “Molly,” which is by far the best track on Pratts & Pain. It switches up the game totally and provides a darker, more sinister tone that is utterly addictive. Especially coming off of such high-paced tracks it is an oddly welcome and pleasant listen. Sadly, the bliss of “Molly” is cut short by the intrusion of “Daisy Chain” which jumps right back to high-speed, overwhelming drum fills and guitar riffs that came before. 

“Sofa King” and “Glory to Glory” chill the album out a tad, but they are not without the usual indie flair that we all know and love. Nothing is particularly great about them, but they could easily fit into a playlist of summery-indie tunes. 

Similar to “Molly” in the sense that it’s a welcome break and shows off a different side of Royel Otis is “Always Always.” This song is a delightful and simple little groove that offers a more hopeful perspective on love and a relationship. While all the other tracks represent how addiction and human connection are fated not to mesh, “Always Always” shares the lovely little sentiment of waiting for someone to grow old with; “I’d hate to get old without you here / The thought of you home has got me thinking only.”

Wrapping up the album is “Big Ciggie,” which is disappointing to say the least. For one, the vocals are hard to understand, and it feels frivolous coming after such a beautiful song like “Always Always”, which suggests that love could prevail if given the chance. The album’s construction would have made more sense to conclude with “Always Always”. That being said, “Big Ciggie” features adlibs galore which can be fun to dance around to. 

All in all, Royel Otis are an intriguing duo with a lot to offer, but Pratts & Pain does not hit the mark quite as well as anticipated. Indie guitar and drum fans will likely be able to find something to appreciate, but as a collective work it falls short and does not show enough perspectives to keep it entertaining. The occasional tempo switch-ups are indications to the band of where, as they move forward and continue making music, they should attempt to explore more because that’s where they shine.