Formed in the desert city of El Paso in 2005, The Royalty is a soulful, female-led indie pop band with a sound that has a retro influence ranging from 1960s rock and roll to 1970s soul music, in the vein of Adele and Sleigh Bells. The quintet honed their sound through hometown gigs and quick tours of the Midwest and West Coast, including stops at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood and the Neon Desert Music Festival in El Paso. In November 2011, the band signed with Victory Records, through which the band issued their debut album Lovers in May 2012.
Indie bands upon indie bands have tried and mostly failed to infuse some soulful flavor into their mix of jagged guitars and ragged rhythms. Where those bands failed, The Royalty succeeds thanks to youthful bravado, crackling energy and their secret weapon: vocalist Nicole Boudreau.
The flaxen-haired beauty is the key to The Royalty's sound, thanks to her ability to adapt to whatever the song requires. You want a punkish in-your-face attitude? Let Boudreau wrap her pipes around the surf swing of "Mr. Hyde." A soul diva coo? Don't let yourself get too close to the sultry curve of "Witchcraft" lest you get burned. Looking for some bluesy swagger? Fall into the strong arms of "Bartender," the opening track of the band's debut album Lovers.
We shouldn't put all the credit on Boudreau's slim shoulders, mind you. She is ably joined in this march towards musical nirvana by four gents—drummer Joel Quintana, keyboardist Daniel Marin, guitarist Jesus Apodaca and bassist Will Daugherty—who convincingly take on the guise of a blustery bar band, a power pop whirlwind and the next big noise in indie rock.
The biggest surprise is that the band is aligning itself with legendary punk label Victory Records for the release of Lovers. This is the furthest from a politically-minded bash fest or a collection of angst-fueled punk. But it's a testament to the power and charm of The Royalty that it was able to win over Victory CEO Tony Brummel.
There's something universally affecting about Boudreau's lyrics that speaks to a variety of painful and joyful experiences, many of which are caused by the young men in her life. She pulls them closer, pushes them further away or confronts them with hands on hips, demanding answers. That she leaves the album off with the embittered and sorrowful ballad "Won't Be Long" only emphasizes just how tender her heart is. You'd do well to handle it—and the band's music—with care.