ALBUM REVIEW: Crooked Royals – Quarter Life Daydream


There is still a ton left to be done in Metal and Rock music. If you’re one of those people who assumes rock is dead simply because it’s not as mainstream as it once was, I am truly sorry for all the amazing new bands you’re missing out on. Among many others, New Zealand quintet Crooked Royals are opening eyes to the many ways the genre is evolving and raising questions of where else it could go from here. 

With their very first full-length album Quarter Life Daydream (3DOT Recordings), Crooked Royals have proven themselves masters of meshing together styles in a way that is unpredictable yet ties together seamlessly. One moment you’ll be listening to metal screams and technical guitar riffing chaos, and the next R&B style singing over an atmospheric backdrop…but then, suddenly there’ll be a crossover of shredding backing it up. Before you know it, it’s built into a massive chorus with soaring melodies as the shredding continues on a whole new level – and miraculously, without distracting too much from the vocals. 


Lead single ‘Glass Hands’ kicks off with some good old-fashioned metalcore, but once the chorus comes in you’re immediately made aware that there’s far more in store. Clean vocalist Christian Carstensen and heavy vocalist Lee Mackley sing and scream of social bias and the people’s determination to stick to a strict set of beliefs, blindly cherry-picking what and what not to trust. Mackley sneers “You know he’s never been one to regress, drenched in delusion, brainwashed for fake progress” several times throughout as it bears repeating, and one last time amidst the pummels of a final breakdown. 

The flourishing cleans of ‘Waypoint’ resemble what Patrick Stump might sound like if he joined a metal band. Songs like ‘Owed To You’ and ‘Between You And I’ could’ve easily been pop songs if molded a little differently, but with the versatility of guitarist Jake Andrews and brilliant artistry of the band as a whole, they can transform their ideas in any way they see fit. Whether it be a melodious guitar line to complement the slow sustained vocal harmonies, or tranquil ambience that blossoms into a cascading wave of notes, they will find a way to take the song beyond its foreseen potential. 


Then we have heavier songs ‘Counterfeit’ and ‘Paper Warrior’ to balance out the record’s lighter moments and keep listeners on their toes. Just when you think you’ve heard it all, Mackley throws down some demonic whispers and ominous layers of screams over grating breakdowns as Carstensen lets out impassioned belts – all while Andrews continues to make every guitar riff count, whether it be silvery smooth clean tones or a blaring frenzy of licks. 


Albums like Quarter Life Daydream are exactly what the rock and metal community need to hear. They prove that there are still ways to keep the art sounding fresh and new without steering too far from the facets that make it full-hearted rock n’ roll. My only gripe is I wish there were more than eight songs, but you can’t really complain about true quality over quantity. Being only Crooked Royals’ first album, they have a promising future if they can continue to hold up to the standard they’ve set for themselves.

Buy the album here:


9 / 10