Royal Brat follow an intriguing trend I see in a lot of queer punk: taking direct and heavy subject matter and addressing it with vitriol, then flipping a switch from anger to singsong and back. It’s fascinating that the two emotions, so different, can jump back and forth without feeling more jarring.
Eyesore is the first full-length from Royal Brat, out of Minneapolis, following a 2015 demo. A few of those songs are rerecorded here, in better quality. The demo showed a promising, angry punk group. With Eyesore, the energy and spirit remain intact, but the songwriting is tighter and fully formed.
Royal Brat mostly plays direct punk rock, with snotty vocals and powerful energy. It’s chord heavy with flowing, descriptive lyrics that establish person and place, then run through an emotional cycle. Tone-wise it’s, well, a little bratty and in your face, but the lyrics are much deeper and cover a range of ideas that range from traumatic moments to personal pride and accomplishment. It’s mostly in a first person perspective, which makes it directly personal with the exception of closing song, “Camisole,” which is either preachy or empowering depending what you like in your lyricism. I’d argue it’s alternately both, walking a similarly difficult tightrope as the vitriol-party thing talked about earlier.
What strikes me about the band is that it’s rooted in classic angry punk and power chords, but at the same time there’s a real rhythm and positive energy that overpowers that more desperation-tinged foundation of classic punk. “Bug” alternately features lyrics like “Orange Crush, I’m hot” with “Kill your rapist, die in jail.” It’s instantly relatable and day-to-day while hitting on some serious shit. Alex Uhrich’s vocals capture all of these elements, building into rage, dismissing the small things, and perfectly accented with well-placed backing and secondary vocals.
While many of the lyrics are focused on heavier themes, the call and response vocals add a more uplifting vibe reminiscent of groups like Sex Stains or Kitten Forever, who balance those complex emotions in their own catalogs. In fact, Kitten Forever regularly covers “Snowball” in their live show. Royal Brat have some commonalities with those groups, but lean more into the short- loud-and-fast school of songwriting while covering a ton of emotional ground over 13 songs and 24 minutes.
8.7 / 10
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