Pratts & Pain: Royel Otis’ debut album is a pensive and reclusive melancholic daydream

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Pratts & Pain: Royel Otis’ debut album is a pensive and reclusive melancholic daydream

Credit: Georges Antoni
Words by Alex Callan

Sydney’s skyrocketing twosome and 2023 ARIA Award Nominees, Royel Otis have released their widely anticipated debut album, PRATTS & PAIN, out globally via OURNESS.

It feels like a Royel Otis’ full-length album has been a long time coming. In actuality, it hasn’t – the guitar pop duo have just made such a huge impact in their short tenure that their debut has been incredibly long awaited by many. 

And it’s for good reason. Their first three EP’s have almost redefined the sound of the Australian indie rock scene, adding layers of sensitivity to a genre that for years had ultimately been carved by Ocean Alley and Sticky Fingers’ easy-going, ‘everything’s chill’ approach.

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Sure, they still maintain a laid-back approach, and their record does lean into guitar-driven melodies and chilled summery choruses, but unlike Ocean Alley, Royel Otis are certainly not ‘all about confidence, baby.’ 

Their debut LP, Pratts & Pain, is a pensive and reclusive melancholic daydream that offers up a whole lot of tender reflection on personal experiences, love, loss, and their perspective on the world.

As explored in ‘Sonic Blue’, which ties in electronic percussion and rhythmic darkwave post-punk elements, Royel Otis were the kids who were written off as weirdos by the jocks, but the cause of envy amongst the artsy crowd. As a result, their outlook, both sonically and lyrically, is wise beyond its years.

A slacker anthem that melds equal parts punk edge and sensitivity, ‘Fried Rice’ explores the inability to leave in the face of love, and the damaging effects staying can have on oneself, while standout ‘Sofa King’ explores feelings of worthlessness in the face of love. ‘Molly’ sees the group toy with static-y psych-rock dissonance, meandering tambourines, and eerie melodies while unpacking drug experimentation and how it’s a short-term fix to mental health issues.

However, storytelling is only one facet of the group’s charm. Pratts & Pain’s most endearing quality comes from its effortless ability to reroute its sound without ever needing to show it off. By toying with minor subtleties, key changes and minute changeups, the group alter their sound so thoughtfully that more often than not, you don’t even notice how different the song is from its predecessor until it’s over. 

They just get it. They don’t need to do anything flashy, they just keep tightly to what will benefit the song. So much so that it seems like there’s not a moment on the whole album where lead singer Otis Pavlovic utilises more than 40% of his vocal capabilities, instead keeping to what works in the best interests of the song to consequentially deliver his vocals with an effortlessly cool nonchalant demeanour. 

Royel Otis became leaders of the loners for a reason, and Pratts & Pain only further showcases why the group’s easy-listening, yet discerning tunes have quickly resonated with so many. 

Pratts & Pain is out now. Listen to it here