Though rock is often spoken of in wistfully familial terms, this bond of blood is literalised in Rare Americans, a band comprised of front man James Priestner, his brother Jared and guitarist Lubo Ivan. With ‘Balmoral Hotel‘, the band forge their own concoction of smooth pop hooks, rapped verses and rolling soft-rock sheen. The band’s most immediately striking feature is Priestner’s nervy, nasal flow, evoking a little of Counting Crows or even Twenty One Pilots in his loose and emotive semi-rapped, semi-sung delivery over a rock backing. However, this is only the most noticeable facet of the band’s genre-bending—the sultry female vocal interjections and clean, crisp production evoke modern pop, but the squalling solo that slews the track to a climax and prominent acoustic guitars once more recall rock.
The track is complemented by the hazy soft-focus of its video, mirroring the lyrical references to drinking and drugging until you’re “numb in the face”. This is heightened by the video’s drab monochrome giving way to an eerie swaying blue that slips in and out of slow motion during the intoxication sequences. Although it all ends, with dispiriting inevitability, with footage of the band playing in a bar, this traditionalism is at least cushioned by the narrative caveat of the performance being filtered through the unreliable perspective of the video’s protagonist. The striking visuals on show will doubtless enhance the song’s commercial viability, and as it currently stands at nearly 900,000 YouTube views at the time of writing, Rare Americans’ sleek brand of pop, rock and hip-hop is beginning to pay serious commercial dividends.
Words: Callum Oliver
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