If you ask almost anyone currently in a band or musical collective, the first act you join or form typically won’t be the last. Circumstances change, personal tastes sharpen and typically if you’re young when you first adventure into music, you fall in and out of certain genres. Such is the case of North Georgia emo tinged alt-rock group Royal Oaks, who initially formed after the dismantlement of their previous respective metalcore act. Influenced by acts belonging to the aforementioned genre of emo and pop punk inspired alt-rock, such as Boston Manor and Balance And Composure, Royal Oaks have successfully turned away from the confrontational aggression of metalcore with their debut EP No Longer There; a release that ticks all the crucial boxes and excels within it’s genre.
Inspired by heartbreak, making farewells but welcoming new opportunities and adventures, No Longer There comes after the group made the collective decision to move from their humble hometown to the bustling metropolis of Atlanta. Such a conscious life decision shines throughout this record, with a general blanketing theme of bitter-sweetness being present. EP opener ‘Lost In The Sentiment’ opens with a distorted riff prior to slamming right into an engaging sonic bounce that’s tailored just for that all important finger pointing. It’s distinctively loyal to the expected conventions of the genre they approach but contains a level of crucial progression required for it to be characteristic.
‘Sold’ continues such a sentiment, with its jovial fretwork contrasting against strained, impassioned vocals that cusp on the verge of breaking. Such emotional fervour is evident within the vocals within this release, with the group not being afraid of documenting deeply personal tribulations that have been crucial in the creation of this record.
‘Not Where I Saw Myself’ takes a more reserved approach to the genre, with a tasteful piano riff leading the way for an amiable stroll of a track that slowly progresses into more strained structures as the track develops. It’s a pleasant contrast from more adhered alt-pop punk featured thus far on this release and serves a congenial interval.
However, one of the most standout points of this record is lead single ‘Better Days’, a track that sublimely projects the aforementioned theme and tone of the record. Documenting the group’s move from their sleepy home town and saying farewell to the misadventures that occurred there, the electric emotion is captivating and it carries a sombre and somewhat nostalgic tone through it’s harmonising vocals and modest shoegaze orientated components. Truly, it's destined to strike a chord with those who have made similar travels through life.
As the introverted and anxious energy of ‘Drawn Out’ draws the EP to a close, Royal Oaks have not only crafted a debut that carries the associated energy of pop punk oriented alt-rock, but have forged a release that’s highly characteristic and carries their own progressive attributes. In an age where this genre is still taking off and progressing, there’s plenty of room for this act and there’s no doubt the group will advance on this foundation with their future work.