HomeMusicAlbum Review: Broke Royals, 'Saint Luxury'

Album Review: Broke Royals, ‘Saint Luxury’

When folk singer Philip Basnight first walked into producer Colin Cross’s DC-area recording studio five years ago, the pair stumbled upon a rich chemistry that would change the course of their lives. With Basnight’s warm, earnest baritone, and Cross’s dynamic production, they’ve explored the valley between shiny modern pop and sweaty modern rock to great effect. Today, after honing their sound across three EPs, a 2017 eponymous full-length album, and dozens of stages across the country, Broke Royals return with their strongest effort yet: Saint Luxury  — an album that takes their self-proclaimed brand of “new American rock” sound to new heights with lots of new hooks.    

Purportedly a concept album revolving around the titular character of wayward angel Saint Luxury, who leaves heaven seeking the other side of the story on Earth (“I got all the answers / I need some questions”), the concept never gets in the way of the music. Despite a musical landscape where the rock genre doesn’t generally cross over into mainstream pop, Broke Royals seek to have it both ways.

Basnight keeps laser-cut, anthemic melodies at the forefront of every track, but he and Cross whip up some rock ’n’ roll energy across the album’s 14 tracks. From the pounding drums and jangling guitars on “Can’t Say” (which nod to early Strokes), the epic, Springsteen-esque vibe of “Born to Break,” and the guitar harmonies that kick off “The World is Ours,” these flavors lend weight and power to each production.

But even in the album’s most rock ’n’ roll moments, the Broke Royals stay in their lane, never getting too rowdy. To the point, no one will confuse Broke Royals for the Raconteurs. But in their finer moments, their sound lands closer to the layered production of radio heavyweights like Coldplay and Imagine Dragons, with a cache of original hooks and heartfelt lyrics that are set to burrow deep.

Lead single “Bad Chemicals” soars with vulnerable emotions and an inspired energy that recalls classic U2. “Love and Tatters” bursts from the speakers with driving rhythms, sparkling guitars, and moody synths that perfectly frame its tale of love in distress. And the title track kicks off the album with a full, assured sound that expertly blends soulful rock elements to their big-screen, aspirational pop aesthetic. 

Basnight’s sensual voice, always delivered with control and composure, keeps the material gloriously grounded in pop-territory. He never hollers or howls, but he emotes, engages, and connects. That connection keeps you coming back to this heartfelt song-cycle. With Saint Luxury, Basnight and Cross have found their sweet spot: anthemic pop that isn’t afraid to rock.     

New Jersey fans can catch Broke Royals rocking out live at Asbury Park’s legendary Wonder Bar on 8/13 with Finding Feebas and Map of Rome. There is no cover.


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