By Connor Shelton, Rock At Night St. Louis
Review: Royal Podencos – Serotonin – Release Date April 17, 2022 via Family Spree Recordings
Though you might not be familiar with them, Royal Podencos are a Spanish garage rock band who have been around for 10 years, and whose new album, Serotonin, encapsules the importance of music in our society. As noted by this album’s press release, “Serotonin is a chemical that the body produces that is needed for nerve cells and the brain to function. But too much serotonin causes signs and symptoms that can range from mild (tremors and diarrhea) to severe (muscle stiffness, fever, and seizures). Severe serotonin syndrome can be fatal if left untreated.” This was the mindset that drove the creation of Royal Podencos’s third album. They were originally set to record Serotonin in 2020, but the recording process was pushed back by the Covid-19 pandemic. During this time, Royal Podencos had to hone in their energy and excitement to make music, and thankfully for them and the listener, the album we have received is one that never feels too frenzied. It displays the patience the group fostered in creating this fun, introspective record.
Opener “Someone” makes it clear that this band, while clearly influenced by the likes of the Strokes, the Hellacopters, and the Stooges, is not derivative of these icons. The riffs are crisp and original, the vocals of Hans Eguinoa are distinct, and the grooves are infectious. The following track, provocatively titled “Stockholm City,” proves that Royal Podencos aren’t just a one trick pony. They can do slower numbers with the same kind of energy as the full-blown rockers which make up the majority of this album. More importantly this also acts as a great showcase for the band’s two guitarists as they deliver a mix of solos, one technically oriented and thrilling like a roller coaster, the other more muted yet confident in its choice to stick to a lower register.
While the interplay between guitarists Jota and Hans Eguinoa is key to the success of the album, it also points toward the one flaw holding this record back: the mix. To put things simply, the production – while by no means awful – is a bit on the muddy side, and this characteristic sometimes results in the compositions not having the punch they should. One expects to be knocked off their socks with a song like “Maybes” or uncontrollably dancing to the New Wave laden “Milky Way,” yet the strongest reaction these songs evoke is a tapping of the foot and nod of the head. With just a bit more polish and cleaning up, the album would truly sparkle and engage the listener without losing any of its bite or – dare we use the term – authenticity.
Putting aside the issue of sound quality, this is a strong statement from the Santander based rock quartet. They’ve got the hooks, they’ve got the chops, now they just need a bit of preening. A little pinch of gloss to go the extra mile. Still, this is a group well worth checking out in their current state, and one who’s evolution this author intends to follow closely.
Serotonin Track List
2. “Stockholm City”
3. “A Friend”
5. “Milky Way”
6. “Out on You”
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