To fully appreciate this album you need to know a little history. These Reigning Days were an act formed in 2012 who floated on the poppy side of indie rock, played school halls, festivals and eventually the San Siro stadium as support act for Bon Jovi. Then in 2016 they grew up, became just ‘Reigning Days’ and learnt that their songwriting talents could be taken up a notch, muddied up and generally made rockier, dirtier, louder and nastier. And so came the first EP a five track offering which has been amalgamated into this, their first full length LP. Over two years in the making and including songs which have been honed live this is a mature debut full of balls-out straight forward rock tunes. The west country trio will not necessarily win any awards for subtlety or finesse but it’s an offering crammed full of riffs, dynamic drumming and great bass playing. With repeated listening however, the complexities of the tracks are more noticeable giving the LP more longevity along with the big initial impact. The bass often carries the songs and this is where the Royal Blood comparison is often made but the balance of guitar and bass is probably more in line with early New Model Army where there is an overlap, with both instruments taking lead at different times. The drums meander everywhere from the complex staccato randomness of Biffy Clyro to the simple vintage style of The Knack or Glitter Band but never anywhere outside the territory known as ‘Rock and Roll’. It’s an album for readers of Classic Rock magazine who realise that music continued to made after The Who split up (the first time).
The Jamiroquai funkiness of the bass, the punky aggression of the drums, the timeless riffing of classic rock guitar and the pop sensibility of the melodies together provide a delicious accompaniment to Dan Steer’s vocals which veer from innocent boy next door to soul-stealing banshee. Sometimes in the same track.
The first EP has been given an overhaul with Crazy Horse being massively improved by a re-recording and Friendly Fire sounder crisper and more in line with the rest of the album. At first the mellow tones of the Do You Feel, a track with echoes of Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Under The Bridge seems out of step with the rest of the bombast and energy on offer but it serves as a tender counterpoint to the other tracks which give no quarter. There’s a lot of quality here with maybe two weaker tracks out of fourteen but the stand out tracks are the re-imagined version of an old song ‘Thrones’ where the vocals ring true, the melody is delicate and the production quality (much of the album was recorded at Abbey Rd) absolute perfection, and My Sweet Love which is an alt/punky Stooges style song with big riffs and a catchy chorus if you like that kind of thing.
Reigning Days have been on the verge of something big for a while now, perhaps this Marshall Records released debut means that this year may see the start of a new dynasty. There are no half measures, as drummer Joe Sansome says “it took over two years to get right and cost us everything we had”, this is an album where the commitment shines through, Reigning Days will rock regardless of adversity.