August Royals EP “Inhaler” brings vintage sounds to modern pop

To the common listener, August Royals looks exactly like Timothee Chalamet. Both are highly talented; one in acting, the other in producing one of the most refreshing pop EP’s in a long time. Drawing inspiration from Harry Styles, Taylor Swift and several R&B artists, Royals delivers an EP that deals with subjects such as heartbreak, addiction and trying to find solace in the aftermath of it all. Both melancholic and hopeful, Royal’s first EP “Inhaler” debuted on March 11. The 23-year-old’s nine song EP reflects on his personal struggles through the styles of R&B, indie rock and alt-pop. 

“Blue Football” comes in, reminiscent of fall with its beat that feels like pulling back the curtain on a late September morning. Talking about “body breaking down on the substance I rely,” leaves a drug innuendo that nods at the listeners to wanting to improve their lifestyle. 

“Surrender”, one of Royal’s most recent singles before dropping the EP, this song feels like listening to a Polaroid photo. Vocals sounding like Ruel and early Ed Sheeran tones through the guitar and drums in the back, it brings a new sound to pop while sounding like one has heard the song before in another life. 

“Crash” hits the viewer like the comedown that Royal’s vocals deliver on the pounding chorus, “I’m hungover but the thoughts are all you/when I’m coming down/when I start to crash.” The edgy tones to the darker lyrics of the longing to be with someone in their lowest moments to make them feel better. 

“Prada” alludes to the popular 2006 film from an ex, described by Royals as a “devil wearing Prada heels.” This song takes a bit of a turn from the darker and vintage-esque sounding songs. Eerie modern feels take center stage, as if the viewer should be watching a montage of a rich girl in a Playboy mansion.

While most of the songs Royal released on the EP had already debuted as singles, Royal’s released two new songs, “Simple Life” and “Overdose.” The former song discusses trying to recover from drug abuse to wanting to achieve that simple life, through all of the trials and tribulations of recovering from addiction. 

The latter opens up on distant sirens and strong guitar that sounds similar to early 2000’s indie-rock. Covering how Royal’s has relied on a friend to help him get sober from an overdose, it’s the perfect balance between dark and hopeful. 

Royals’ quickly shifts gear into his song, “All I Need.” Following a spoken mini-dialogue, the song is ominous, yet sexy, showing that Royals has yet to recover from his demons “who claw his shoulders to keep him down.” Instead of resorting to drugs or alcohol, he turns to lusting to satisfy his needs. As the song screeches to a halt, he thinks he’s found love as he “found something that makes waking up in the morning exciting again.”

Following the suggestive, sensual previous song, “Kiss my Scars” leaves the viewers a light and beautiful song about how Royal doesn’t feel he and his lover shouldn’t be together, but he wants “to die in her arms” as she accepted all of his flaws. This song cements Royal’s career in pop, fitting in perfect with what most viewers tend to gravitate to when listening to songs about falling in love these days. The song feels like a smile, like the listener is proud of Royals’ progress.

The album wraps up with “Oxygen,” fitting in with the EP’s title. Talking about not being able to breathe when Royals isn’t sharing their oxygen, it’s the hopeful message about falling in love, discarding his troubled past behind him. It leaves on a light note with fluctuating breaths that seem urgent, but also like they can’t get enough. 

Overall, the album fluctuates like one needs an inhaler; dark, brooding songs with strong beats are suddenly overtaken by lighter, hopeful melodies. Royals has potential to launch himself into mainstream pop by feeling like we’ve heard these songs before, but with a revamped and familiar touch to them. 

The future is bright for Royals, as he pulls in new listeners and leaves long time fans awaiting his next release in music. A lush debut for the indie pop scene, “Inhaler” is the breath of fresh air that the music industry needed.

Header Photo: August Royals EP “Inhaler” debuted on March 11. The album covers topics such as heartbreak, addiction and recovering from the aftermath through indie pop and R&B sounds. (Courtesy photo)

Write to: Emma Johnson at emma.johnson.5@mnsu.edu

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.