On their eponymous 2014 debut, Royal Blood came across like a monochromatic Brummie version of the White Stripes, one that was intent on hitting so hard they could conjure memories of Black Sabbath. Despite its foreboding title, How Did We Get So Dark? doesn't feel quite as heavy as its predecessor. Much of this is due to the duo of Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher opening up their production so that How Did We Get So Dark? doesn't primarily rely on their hypercharged rhythm section. To be sure, this remains the bedrock of Royal Blood's sound, but the addition of fuzz guitars, harmonies, and even a few keyboards along with a bit of a funk swing to the grooves makes a world of difference in the band's attack. Here, they not only sound brawny but nimble, navigating twists in their riffs and rhythms without a hitch and without flash. Such lack of pretension usually works for Royal Blood's overall benefit -- it underscores their muscle -- even if it occasionally means that their songs can feel like a pile of hooks. That doesn't happen as often on How Did We Get So Dark? as it did on Royal Blood: broadening the sonic palette helps sharpen the songs, and the result is a sophomore set that's ambitious and satisfying.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine