Reviews Heideroosjes Royal to the Bone

Heideroosjes

Royal to the Bone

If the name didn't clue you in, Heideroosjes ("the Meadow Flowers") are one of those oft-mentioned European punk bands; they're the kind who sell thousands of records but you've never heard of them. The sticker on the front of the CD case says, "Over 200,000 units sold in Europe," as an apparent selling point, followed by "For fans of Anti-Flag, Green Day and Bad Religion." Personally I'd liken them to a poppier Pennywise rather than any of those three, but maybe I'm missing something.

I'm certainly missing something when it comes to the lyrics, because I honestly can't understand how a band that sings, "keep your mouth shut 'cause it smells like fish" can sell 200,000 records. While the band have sang in several languages including Dutch and German as well as English, I'm not entirely sure that this exempts them from writing lines that make me want to cringe and turn the CD off. Some examples:

So maybe I just should
act like one of those
And punch a harmless granny
real hard up her nose

Here I'm standing, yes, I'm crying
Oh my God I feel like dying
I am not a tough guy anymore

And most cringe worthy of all:
I just know a few chords on my guitar
Hear me sing, I just sound like Dylan
with a too tight bra

While there's plenty of bands who earn a living writing songs with comedic lyrics, Heideroosjes don't seem to fit that label (particularly with the Bad Religion sticker on the front). Many of the lyrics are labeled as being written in the 90's, which definitely shows.

Musically, the band is pretty tight. Well-produced pop-punk with a slightly tougher edge than some of their compatriots, with an occasional foray into Irish-sounding ballads, like a European Flogging Molly. A little like their peers Millencolin, they play a pretty familiar Americanized version of punk rock that doesn't betray too much of their geographical origins. However, there are one or two odd musical decisions, such as a bizarre vocal effect on "Nothing's Wrong" that turns a NYHC-esque breakdown chorus into a laughable joke. Equally, a song called "Rockstar Heaven" about "Kurt, Jim, Keith and Jimmy" is another weird decision that doesn't do much for the band. "Scapegoat Revolution" features lyrics about being sixteen and getting picked on, so it's fairly clear what audience the band are playing to.

It feels almost unfair to criticize the lyrics of a band for whom English is probably not their first language (some odd phrasing and spellings in the liner notes attest to this), but there's no excusing lines like "We've got to break the public peace / To save the ones we love, the kids, the trees".

Heideroosjes are probably forerunners of the Dutch scene, but it's going to take more than this to make them successful in a wider market. My advice to the band is to work out how seriously they want to be taken, because currently, it's hard to imagine identifying with these lyrics unless you're a thirteen-year-old who thinks Fat Mike is the Mozart of politics and humor. If they don't, it seems that "big in Europe" is likely to become a metaphor for "a poor clone of American music."

5.3 / 10Matt
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