Last year Medway-based Theatre Royal released their debut album, From Rubble Rises, while they continued to carve out a following with their tight, solid live performances across London and the south-east of England.
Theatre Royal are Oliver Burgess (Vocals/Guitar), Robbie Wilkinson (Guitar/Vocals), Brendan Esmonde (Bass) and Jon Gibbs (Drums) and only formed in 2009. The album includes 11 self-penned songs that effortlessly blend different guitar-led genres including 1960s brit pop, lo-fi garage rock / pop and west coast / alt country music.
There are plenty of possible influences on Theatre Royal’s sound, some of which can be heard on From Rubble Rises. From Morrissey and The Smiths on Turn To Rust, to the stomping garage rock of The Clash on Foreign Shores. Theatre Royal also appear to indulge themselves in the so-called 1960s “Medway sound” without sounding too retro in their appreciation, unlike other bands from the Medway area that appear to be doing nothing more than regurgitating the past.
From the jagged-edged jangle guitar and up-tempo beat of the first track, Cold Charity, the album is pulled along by its irresistible and uncomplicated charm and is a great testament to a young band that have released an exceptional debut album compromising of everything that is good about pop music and many of its offshoots from the past forty years. The result is a well produced studio album that captures the excitement and full colour sound of their live performance that resides in the ‘all thrillers not filler’ category of all good record shops.
From Rubble Rise is released on Theatre Royal’s own imprint, ‘The Preservation Society Presents’ label and Spit And A Dream was chosen as the title track of a four track EP.
The Shape Of Things To Come is a jolly sing-a-long ditty that has the hallmark of 1960s brit pop and falling somewhere between an early Beatles mop-top sing-a-long and a ‘hum-mungus’ Searchers pop treat. This is a perfect pop song, as is the slower ballad, Painted Smile. These songs show great song composition and song writing skills with a professional maturity well beyond their years. Both songs should have made the Radio 2 playlist.
From Rubble Rises includes some very strong tracks but the power, driving beat and duel vocals of Foreign Shores is a real stand out track for me. Every now and then I hear a track, whether it be from Radiohead, Shrag or Theatre Royal that hits the spot so perfectly that I wish I had written it. Foreign Shores is one of those songs. From the its two guitar discord build up, rolling snare drum that acts as a role call and then the duel vocal delivery that works perfectly, reminding me of the way Joe Strummer and Mick Jones used to command the stage in the heady days of The Clash. It doesn’t get much better than this!
From Rubble Rises is a great album full of gentle pop escapism; nothing too taxing but never a dull moment. The album concludes with the slow building track, The Ballad Of Tommy Hall complete with harmonica solo. It tells of the suicide of a young man, though along with a couple of other tracks on the album, I can’t help but think it has anti-war overtones. I maybe be wrong about that. But I know that if I had listened to this before stuffing myself with festivity and New Year celebrations, I would have included From Rubble Rises by Theatre Royal in my ‘best albums of 2010’ list.