One thing is for sure: this album was a dream.
On October 28, rock band Palaye Royale released their highly anticipated third album Fever Dream. This is an album that I have been anticipating since the group dropped “Punching Bag” and “No Love In L.A.” in July 2021. As each single was released in the following months, that anticipation only grew. I was eager to hear what the group would release as a follow-up to their album The Bastards, an album that was in my top releases of 2020.
This album did not disappoint. From start to finish, Fever Dream tells an engaging story that has the listener enraptured with the music. From the lyrics to the instrumentals and the order of the songs, it is clear thought, care and love went into putting together this masterpiece of an album.
It opens with the somber notes of “Eternal Life – Intro.” Acoustic guitar is blended with frontman Remington Leith’s pain and emotion-filled voice to set the tone for the start of the album. A gentle instrumental build creates a smooth transition into “Eternal Life” and the album is a go. This track talks about wanting to escape the real world, wanting a new life, how you are the villain in your life and you just need to escape your mind and thoughts. Leith’s scream-like vocals highlight that pain and mix well with the heavier guitar and drums to set the mood.
In order to understand and appreciate Fever Dream fully, listening to the album in order is key. It tells the story of struggling with mental health, career, relationships, feeling like you want to disappear and living in a dream world. We begin to see a shift about 75% of the way through the album on the track “Lifeless Stars.” This anthemic track talks about people who are struggling can make it through and do great things. The chorus says, “we are, we are the lifeless stars shining in the dark/we all, we all have teenage scars/defining who we are,” referencing how we all persevere through hard times. Leith even sings during the bridge, “they said I would burn out/and slowly sink and drown/but I don’t wanna die, I don’t wanna die today,” a stark contrast to the lyrics from previous songs. The listener begins to see the mental shift that is coming with the rest of the album.
“King of the Damned” has hard-hitting guitar and drums that create a sassy and powerful sound. This song screams vengeance, finding your place and making yourself known. Leith talks about how people have told him he has no purpose and no cause, but he is the leader of the lost. This can be attributed to the fans, known as Soldiers of the Royale Council. From a more abstract angle, it references people who felt lost and pushed to the side. Mixed with the harsh sound, screaming and edgy vocals full of fury, “King of the Damned” shows that Leith is not to be stopped.
The highlight of this album is the title track “Fever Dream”. This anthemic song features a variety of instrumental styles. Dark sounding verses with brighter choruses create a beautiful dynamic and bring the concept of a fever dream to life. Lyrically, this song speaks to wanting to escape to a perfect world where there are no problems and living happily. The lyrics are as if Leith is speaking to one person and he is trying to convince him to come with him. As long as they have each other, they will be okay. Paired with the choral and march-like bridge, this song is a masterpiece that takes the listener on a journey.
Choosing a favorite on the album is tough, but “Line It Up” featuring LP is a contender. This song talks about life on the road, not wanting to live a boring life or be like their parents. They want to take risks, take the plunge into the unknown and pursue their dreams. The song’s instrumental is simple. There are cool groovy guitar lines that drive the song, but the lyrics really carry “Line It Up.” Leith and LP’s vocals sound beautiful together, blending perfectly to put the cherry on top of a beautiful track. Both bring the emotion and add their own twist and style that works perfectly.
“Oblivion” is a fantastic transition track. This acoustic song talks about wanting to help and not being sure where to go. It is like a cry for help and the pain is heard clearly in Leith’s vocals, bringing the lyrics to life. It sounds like he is on the verge of tears, letting out all the emotion that has built up throughout the course of the album. The lyrics are repetitive to really hit the meaning home. A touch of strings at the end create a big moment before fading out, making it sound even more like a stream of consciousness, last plea for help.
“Off With The Head” and “Off With The Head – Outro” are fantastic album closers. The first half gives a jazzy, jumpy beat to get you moving. Leith’s vocals are powerful and give the edge the song needs. It even has a little sass behind it, giving off the aura of, “I am not here to play, I have the power now.” But, the real standouts on the track are the guitar and drums. The guitar lines are killer, powerful and full of emotion with hard-hitting drums that and add just enough. Both work to create a seamless transition into the outro to bring the album home. Every element comes together with full force. A dramatic guitar line, steady drum beat, Leith’s powerful and emotion filled vocals go hard with the repetition of, “They say we all/they say we all fall down/Why don’t they know by now/we won’t go down, no, no.” This slowly fades out and the album comes to an end.
Fever Dream is cohesive from start to finish. A clear story is told not only with lyrics, but with instrumentals. Guitar, piano, drums, bass, everything compliment one another. Everything had a purpose: nothing, including dynamics, mixing and added effects, feels out of place. Each song has its own unique sound, but Fever Dream still feels like one album.
Remington Leith brought the emotion to the lyrics. Whether it is subtle soft vocals, angry scream vocals or powerful emotional belting, he brought the lyrics to life and aided the storytelling. The listener understood what emotion to feel while listening and what was being conveyed. Making every song easy to connect with in some way.
This has easily become my favorite Palaye Royale album and a contender for best album of the year.
Fever Dream is currently available to stream and purchase.