You might think that anyone willing to release an album has already resigned themselves to the public dissection that inevitably follows – not so with Jherek Bischoff.
After playing with and producing the likes of The Dead Science, Parenthetical Girls, the Octopus Project and Xiu Xiu, this is Bischoff’s second attempt at a solo project of experimental indie compositions. The first, a self-titled release in 2006, compiled several years of recordings onto a hand-made CD which he would leave anonymously on cafe tables, windshields and trees. But those intrigued enough to listen would not have come away with any real idea of who this enigmatic musician is.
Royals is an album shrouded in darkness. With a sparse array of sounds, obscured verses and wordless choruses, the album plays out like a brooding film score (particularly when -All We Know’ simulates the theme from The Shining) yet quickly feels like the soundtrack to a series of scenes we’re not privy to.
Songwriters and introspection are often synonymous but here the music itself comes up shy, so hushed and restrained that it refuses to reveal itself fully. Bischoff’s intentions couldn’t be to make the listener work harder because, try as you might, there is only so much there to dig at.
With production taking precedent over substance, Royals feels like the work of someone who wants to express himself without having to be scrutinised which, ultimately, only draws the magnifying glass in closer.