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Royal Trux | White Stuff

The nefarious duo sound just as cruddy and weird as ever on their comeback set.

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Jennifer Herrema hasn’t forgotten how to get the party started. Or how to act like a damn rock star. “This is the way it’s supposed to be / Push me on a cart through the duty free / Hangin’ out and playin’ all across the land / Tellin’ everybody we’re the greatest band,” the Royal Trux frontwoman enthusiastically yowls on White Stuff’s opening title cut. As opening lines go, it’s not bad. Especially on Herrema’s first album of new studio material with guitarist and former creative/life partner Neil Hagerty in nearly 20 years. And while they might not have earned the right to reclaim that ‘greatest band’ title yet, there’s no denying White Stuff is a helluva start. Not because Herrema and Hagerty sound as good as they used to, but because they sound just as cruddy, weird, and completely bereft of fucks to give as they’ve always been. Unlike bands whose raw edges get sanded down to safe competency as the years go by, the notoriousy nefarious duo — to their credit — clearly haven’t grown, evolved or progressed one iota since they were last together. Their songs still sound like they were being written as they were recorded. The drums stop and start and lurch and twist. The instrumental and lyrical arrangements wander all over the place, barely even bothering to pay lip service to songwriting convention. Hagerty spends most of his time noodling around and soloing whenever he feels like it. Herrema seems to sing whenever the mood strikes, drawling and slurring her lines with those rusty barbed-wire pipes like the illegitimate daughter of Janis Joplin and Macho Man Randy Savage. From start to finish, the 37-minute White Stuff exhibits a subterranean vibe somewhere between Exile on Main St. and an opium den. And that, as Herrema so rightly put it, is exactly the way it’s supposed to be. Deep, dark, dangerous and disturbing: White Stuff delivers a pure, uncut dose of everything you hoped for from Royal Trux 2.0. If they can manage to keep it together — a big ask, based on the seemingly strained relations between the band’s two antagonistic protagonists — they’ll be rolling through the duty free again in no time.