Royal Trux - White Stuff - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Royal Trux - White Stuff

by Tim Sentz Rating:7 Release Date:2019-03-01
Royal Trux - White Stuff
Royal Trux - White Stuff

The noisy, rugged beginnings of D.C.’s Royal Trux were laced with lo-fi and crunchy riffage. They were unique amongst their brethren – bands like Pussy Galore, Half Japanese, and even fellow D.C. punkers Fugazi. The dual vocal responsibilities of Neil Michael Hagerty and Jennifer Herrema in the punkish-noise rock aesthetic was exhilarating. Live shows aside, their output became a bit mixed as the 21st century approached, and Accelerator is still considered their best by a long shot (though to the unanimated Cats and Dogs is fantastic as well).

Their first album in 19 years, following a lengthy hiatus from 2001-2015, the chaotic duo returns with White Stuff, a collection of alt-rock cuts written over the last three years. The results are mostly fruitful if you take the time to really delve into the record. Lead up singles like “Get Used to This,” with its bizarre guest spot from Kool Keith and an even more bizarre electronic production, didn’t bode well for White Stuff. Its inclusion in the album is even more baffling, but what’s done is done. Even the title track released at the start of the new year was kind of a curious choice, as it seemed more tailored for radio play than for the avid fanbase clamoring for new music from the tandem. “White Stuff” seems to push the envelope further from their noise rock roots, and more into that friendly sound.

It’s refreshing though, that “Year of the Dog” kicks things up a notch, even if its chorus seems a bit bland, musically it’s a more cohesive offering from them. Nothing on White Stuff compares to their greatest efforts like Accelerator, but it’s a valiant effort to give people something to chew on. “Suburban Junkie Lady” might be my personal favorite on the record, as Herrema’s vocals are clearer, and it feels more like a combined effort than the rest of the album’s tracks.

The issue to be found with White Stuff is how overly safe it is compared to their previous work. None of these tracks really push the boundaries that the 90s iteration of Royal Trux did. After 19 years without a new record, this is kind of expected. When they broke up in 2001 (as a band, and as a couple) rumors circulated about the cause of it – drugs, fame, the usual reasons, etc. – people were okay with the bookend to their catalog, but now that they’re back it’s been met with a “meh.” White Stuff isn’t a bad record, it just feels a bit lackluster when compared to their high points. It’s a fun, jovial, noisy rock record, and something that we’ve come to expect for reunion albums: very safe. 

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