Good songs buried under layers of sediment.
The first thing that strikes the listener about Canadian sextet Royaume des Morts' self-titled debut is the extraordinary muddiness of the mix. Songs like "The Tape Deck Ate My Hit" and "Motherless Kids Have Eyes" are buried under layers of reverb and toothless midrange guitar tones, with oppressive degrees of bass slathered on top. Occasional sonic highlights appear -- a snapping snare demands attention in "Violence", a glockenspiel rings through "Pills" -- but these just point up the fact that, most of the time, nothing steps forward from the stew. This is most egregious in regard to the vocals, which are rarely comprehensible and often barely audible.
The songs themselves are reminiscent of shoegaze, mixed with a good-sized dollop of '80s alternative rock acts like The Cure. The Elliot Smith-esque vocal stylings are most apparent on "Sunday Sunny Sunday". Fans of the era might want to give this a listen, but be forewarned: there's nothing wrong with your speakers. The record really does sound like that.