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It’s been a minute since I’ve had the pleasure of attending a Pink Royal performance, so I was thrilled to learn about the release of their latest EP, Do You Mind. I don’t think anyone knew what to expect from Pink Royal when their former frontman hit the road, but that was okay with them. As drummer, Alex Hartmann put it: “when people ask who we’re replacing him with and the response is ‘no one’ they usually get real quiet. I love it because I know their expectations are understandably low, but I also know what we can do as a 5-piece.” The lead vocalists might be new, but Do You Mind delivers the catchy take-me-not-too-seriously tunes that have been their signature from the start.
The opener to the EP, “The End (Can’t Go Back)” captured me at first listen with its guttural cries and haunting lyricism, both brooding and soft. “I’ll vandalize your dream if I need to.” Okay, boys. Go ahead. It’s followed by “Do You Mind,” a sugar-sweet song with just a hint of melancholy. It’s a beautifully layered second track, and it’s obvious that there’s been much time and attention paid to each detail.
There are moments on the third track, “From High Above,” that have me thinking I’m listening to a mashup between Brandon Boyd and Allen Tate, laced with warmth, texture, and attitude. Even with the familiarity, the groove and intricacies quickly remind me who I’m listening to. Things get funky a track later on “The Knock.” The opening of the song would lead you to believe that it’s an explicitly feel good jam, but the confessional lyrics tell a different story. “I’m engineering the failure… I’m in and out of line / I never could decide.” The juxtaposition of the poppy sound with the vulnerable lyrics (and the lyrics themselves) hints at a theme that’s woven throughout the album – ambiguity.
“Candid” reminds me of the beauty that Local Natives trademarked on their Hummingbird album with its exceptional harmonies. The track tells a tale of redemption, one that captures a struggle but conveys gratitude and grace for the experience – something that’s not easy to put into words, let alone to sing eloquently. They close out the EP with the warm and playful “Bring It On Back,” perfect for a sunny, early fall patio sesh. I can’t help but think about the hours I spent blasting Third Eye Blind’s “Out of the Vein” every time I hear it.
I love that Do You Mind reminds me of some of my favorite artists, but never lets me forget who I’m listening to. The vocals are different, the sound is maturing, and they stamped their signature groove all over it. The lyrics may grasp at pain and heartache at times, but they’re always countered with the pop-funk-groove that Pink Royal is so fondly committed to. If this dichotomy confuses you, don’t worry, there’s a moral to the story here, and I think it’s this: