Gina Royale writes with an upbeat and engaging style. It could be called pop rock. Royale’s vocals are enjoyable and the songs come along comfortably. Her entry beat out some really talented artists in the New Music Friday competition, so enjoy this dynamic album.
“Fix You” begins with an uptempo style that really shows off Royale’s overall style. Her vocals are solid, even with a breakneck pace on the song. The lyrics highlight a complicated relationship that makes the lead character do a good deal of self reflection. “Mean Song” actually sounds like pop country. There is a vengeful sentiment to the song about writing about an ex. It’s very much Taylor Swift in theme. The overall song, though, is really about interacting with the difficulties of life after a broken relationship.
“Let’s Just Kiss” shifts gears a bit. Although the lyrical focus is still on a relationship, the sound is more focused on a piano and more intimate vocals. It’s a welcome change in the middle of the album. It really allows Royale’s naturally exceptional vocals to shine. It’s probably the best track on the album. Of course, “Battle Cry” that follows is another upbeat song that motivates the listener into movement. It reminds me more of something you’d hear from Kelly Clarkson or someone like that. It’s a rallying song and fittingly a “battle cry.” It’s sure to be inspirational for some listeners.
The penultimate track “You Don’t Want Me” is a bit like a diary entry, confessional and deeply personal. The piano shines on this one, but it still has an uptempo style like some of the others on the album. It makes me think of an artist named Natasha Beddingfield from the early 2000s. There’s plenty of energy to the track as Royale reflects on the complications of unrequited love. The final (and title) track “Brain Waves” is the song that won Royale this review. In truth, it goes in a completely different direction than the rest of the album as a uke solo song rather than some of the other big production elements.
Like I’ve said on other gifted artists, sometimes the production gets in the way of the really solid music. I’d love to hear more from Royale in the stripped down mode of “Let’s Just Kiss” and “Brain Waves” with a bit less of the high production stuff. That said, this is really a nice album for folks who enjoy pure pop music in the 21st century. There are electronic and uptempo elements throughout the album that make it a pleasant companion for a running playlist or to keep you thinking about the “one that got away” in your romantic life.