Music Reviews
White Stuff

Royal Trux White Stuff

(Fat Possum) Rating - 6/10

White Stuff is the first studio album to emerge from Royal Trux in 19 years. Following a reissue campaign and the release of a live album in 2018 titled Platinum Tips + Ice Cream, Royal Trux (still the inebriated slur-as-art vocal of Jennifer Herrema and Neil Hagerty’s buzzing frets) successfully pick up from 2000’s Pound for Pound, rock radio/blues derivations competently managed for the album’s title track. A series of resounding and polished snare beats drive the duo as they sing in unison, making “that white stuff” sound like fun.  

Evoking an era of sonic trends in rock production that ties into the album’s rock-ist posturing, White Stuff is surprisingly easy on the ears. Consider the isolated and constrained guitar tones in Black Flag’s In My Head or the airy snare sounds in Kyuss’s 1991 release, Wretch. Somehow the record sounds almost parodic as if Herrema and Hagerty grasp two hands on the mic stand with a triumphant stage pose—and it’s difficult to tell if this is intentional or not. In “Sic Em Slow,” Hagerty laments, “Haters take a chainsaw to your soul / All because you dare to rock n’ roll,” one of many times that he and Herrema harp on the genre as if longing for the forgotten pre-Greta Van Fleet days or something. While “Year of the Dog's effective two minutes and change and the appealing chug of Every Day Swan both make a solid case that Royal Trux reps rock’s last crusade, the overall sheen of White Stuff is contradictory. This album should be a lot dirtier. The cover alone promises of cocaine-fueled dBs rupturing eardrums and sweating through any set of speakers or headphones. Instead, we get a Kool Keith feature that finds more in common with recent Gorillaz than Dr. Octagon—the unnecessary and frustratingly out of place Get Used to This).

With all that said, Royal Trux is more attitude than style. From the proto-shitgaze of 1990’s Twin Infinitives to the exploratory shapes of 1998’s Accelerator, Herrema and Hagerty tread wherever they please. With such a long break to contend with, White Stuff is a welcome return even if it is uneven. While I find the production choices questionable, I can’t deny that it suits the relatively smooth melodic loops of both Purple Audacity #2 and #1, which sound as if possibly bred from improv sessionsand even helps provide an engaging contrast from the content of Suburban Junkie Lady to its aural consonance.