The musical history of Washington D.C. is, typically, focused on the contributions of the nation’s capital to the punk rock scene. It’s far from the whole story. Duos like Broke Royals are rewriting the story of the D.C. music scene one release at a time and leaving an indelible mark with each new song. Their latest EP release, The Luxury of Time Pt. III, likely represents the final entry in a conceptual series that has, thus far, dominated their recording career. The six track collection keeps a steady musical focus throughout, confining its running time to a manageable length, but demonstrates surprising understated diversity that plays naturally and never draws attention to itself.
There’s a lot of positivity underlying the message in the Broke Royals’ songs and that quality is seldom more apparent on the EP than it is during the opener. “On My Way” doesn’t go on too long, but it bubbles over with distinctive youthful energy. The song has a sweet, well-rounded presentation that’s primarily thanks to the beautiful vocal harmonies. The EP’s second track, “New Suns”, has muscular power that helps the track stand out in comparison to everything surrounding it. Despite the short length of the songs, Broke Royals frame everything in a vivid, cinematic fashion and “New Suns” is no exception. The vocals are an enormous strength of the EP as a whole, particularly the harmonies, but Broke Royals are quite capable of conveying a variety of emotions. The duo opts for a slowly percolating attack on “Young Tigers” and it’s a welcome break following the comparative chaos of the opening songs. They take a more nuanced approach to the singing as well – the presentation is much more intimate than before and largely eschews the wide screen approach typically favored by the act.
Acoustic guitars figure prominently in the mix on “Love, Youth, & Glory”, but this is far from some neo-folkie outing from Broke Royals. Instead, the low-fi guitars are just one ingredient in a potent concoction driven by restless, but consistent drumming. The electric guitars snake through the track and crackling with melodic imagination and surprising physicality. The song’s probably one of the EP’s best recorded tracks and the production does a fantastic job of detailing and balancing its various elements. Strident drumming, colorful keyboard fills, and more high octane guitar crown the closer, “Heartless Come Around”, but the plaintive vocal gives it an aching emotional center superseding its other merits. The Luxury of Time Pt. III concludes with “Outro”, a brief instrumental track with progressive leanings. It closes the release on an appropriately elegiac note.
The Luxury of Time Pt. III has a conceptual basis but stands on its own as an entertaining collection of similarly themed songs. The material is never inaccessible and works hard to establish a connection with its target audience. Broke Royals clearly understands how to write and record top shelf alt rock/pop that works well with a tradition, but nevertheless has a powerfully individual slant.