I remember reading a Rolling Stone interview with the band MGMT where they cited Royal Trux as one of their big influences. It was that revelation that made me try and delve into MGMT's material in search of some connection. Alas, there wasn't much to be found. I'm sure they have an interesting list of other bands that they listened to regularly throughout the years, and I'm sure I would probably like a lot of them. However, they sound nothing like this. Nothing.
Royal Trux were truly a one of a kind phenomenon that could have only really happened in the 90's, when weirdness and aloofness were considered virtues for a rock band, and anything too popular with the mainstream was viewed as suspect. Those days are gone, obviously, but this album remains as one of the prime cultural artifacts documenting that period of time, and that particular mentality.
It is noisy, abrasive and wild, and yet sonically precise and infectious. The beats are huge and induce rhythmic body quaking, if not actual dancing. Each song sounds like it has a couple dozen layers of instruments all compressed down into one or two tracks. The lyrics are cryptic and inscrutable, but ring out like anthemic manifestos from a demented fever dream.
It's in your blood, it's in your brain, it drives 'em all insane, as Jennifer Herrema hisses on the catchy and dissonant Juicy Juicy Juice.
It leaves a taste in your mouth just like a burning tire, as Herrema and partner Neil Hagerty croon in unison on the jaggedly sentimental ballad, Liar.
New Bones is the song that has held up the best over the years in my mind, however. It seems to combine all the various elements that wormed their way into Royal Trux's music over the preceding decade. Repetitive, hypnotic rhythms. Echoing, squealing feedback that coalesces into strange little micro-melodies before dissipating into the ether. Snarling call-and-response vocals that seem to both taunt you and forewarn you at the same time.
They close off the album with a little bit of 70's style organ soul in the form of the plaintive Stevie, which could be about photographer Steven Meisel, or perhaps erstwhile action star-cum-auteur Stephen Seagal. It's probably one of the most purely melodic songs of Royal Trux's entire discography, and is the one I would recommend showing off to your friends to introduce them to the band.
Don't assume they'll walk away as fans though.
If they do, count your blessings to be so lucky to have friends like that at all...