Dragonette

Royal Blues

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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares

In the four years between Royal Blues and Bodyparts, pop music went through quite a few changes -- and so did Dragonette: though they continued their creative partnership, Dan Kurtz and Martina Sorbara ended their romantic relationship. The group's many collaborations over the years have proved they're nothing if not versatile, and they approach late-2010s pop from several different angles on Royal Blues. "Let the Night Fall" is a fine example of breezy tropical pop, while "Secret Stash," a reunion with Dutch producer DJ Mike Mago, could be another EDM smash like their previous collaboration, "Outlines." However, it sometimes feels like the trends are wearing them instead of the other way around. Dragonette's takes on filter disco ("Darth Vader") and reggae-tinged pop ("Lonely Heart") just aren't as distinctive as their best work; meanwhile, "Body 2 Body" is reminiscent of fellow Canadians Tegan and Sara, while the hazy album closer, "Future Ghosts," feels more akin to Nite Jewel or Goldfrapp. Fortunately, Dragonette do find ways to transform their creative and personal changes into memorable pop music on Royal Blues. The way Sorbara dances on her troubles on "High Five" adds some sting to its cheekiness, while the layers to "Lost Teenagers"' nostalgia make it even more bittersweet. Elsewhere, more nuanced songs like the airy, surprisingly delicate title track and "Sweet Poison," which features a cameo from Dada and production by La+ch (as well as pointed lyrics like "We slam into each other like an accident"), point the way forward for the group. At times, Royal Blues' scatteredness makes it feel more like a compilation than Mixin to Thrill did, but its best moments suggest that this is a critical point in Dragonette's evolution.

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