He may have been the face of an international celebrity, but now that Peter Jackson is behind the camera, it’s time for Robert Pattinson to shine.

The actor’s band, Royal Blood, released its debut album, Sings I Can’t Sing, last year and it instantly became their most popular record, topping both the UK and US charts. The band is currently on a tour of North America, supported by Imagine Dragons. While in Vancouver, BC, I had the opportunity to speak to Pattinson about his new album, his acting career, and what it means to be “Pattinson”.

An Album Full Of Painful Confessional Exchanges

The title of the band’s debut album is slightly misleading. Sure, the majority of the 13 songs are anguished cries for help (hence “I can’t sing”), but the album also contains some of the band’s most infectious pop – the kind of catchy, radio-friendly tunes that make even the darkest of hearts perk up and consider getting involved in a romance.

The opening track, ‘One Night’, kicks off the album with a rush of drums and distorted guitars. It also contains a lyric that could be interpreted as a love letter to Twilight’s Bella. The song’s chorus, “Take me as I am / I’ve never felt more alive”, could be said to represent a coming-of-age of sorts for the character of Rob Pattinson – whose acting career spans from Kill Bill to the upcoming movie, The Magician. Whether he’s playing a vampire or a young lover, Pattinson has found his niche in portraying angst-ridden romantics.

A Change Of Pace For The Actor

It’s been a while since Pattinson has released a full-length album – the last one being the 2010 EP, Ashes and Fire, which contains three songs and featured a stripped-back version of his band’s sound. Since then, he’s mostly released singles and EPs, collaborating with high-profile creators and artists such as U2, the Black Keys, and David Bowie. He’s also worked on soundtracks for films such as The Twilight Saga and Black Swan.

While he’s established himself as a solo artist, it’s fair to say that, as a musician, he still needs a band. Since the debut of Royal Blood, he’s been joined by bassist and backing vocalist Ben Thatcher, who previously played in the hardcore band Poisoned Chalice and signed a record deal with Sony Music in 2015. The two have been touring regularly and playing to larger crowds than ever before.

All The Right Reflections

One of the album’s standout tracks is ‘Mermaid’, which samples the late, great Prince’s 1984 song ‘When Doves Cry’. The standout moment comes a few minutes into the song, when the band breaks into a soaring, psychedelic finale. The track was a highlight of their set at the 2017 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, where they played to a crowd of over 150,000 people.

The album also features a cover of the Rolling Stones’ ‘Paint It Black’, which the band performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last year. The song was originally performed by the British Rock band, the Black Keys. Although it wasn’t originally part of their set list, it became an instant hit, reaching number five on the Billboard Top 100 in 2014. While ‘Paint It Black’ is one of the most popular songs on the album, it is not the only cover on the record; the band also perform a faithful rendition of the Beatles’ ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’, and the Velvet Underground’s ‘Sweet Jane’.

The album opens with a cover of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ ‘I Won’t Back Down’; perhaps the most iconic track by one of America’s most influential and beloved garage rock bands. The band’s take on the song is an anguished roar, with Pattinson’s gritty vocals being supported by a thunderous drumline and bassist Thatcher’s muscular playing. In the live setting, the song is even more powerful, with an entire band – including keyboard player Chris Blackwell – unleashing their fury on this classic rock ‘n’ roll tune.

Singing Was Never Part Of His Plans

After ‘I Won’t Back Down’, the album jumps ahead to its penultimate track, ‘Just To Feel Something’, a love letter to Pattinson’s late mother, Jenny. The song’s chorus goes: “If I could turn back the hands of time / I’d give you all of this, darling / But it’s too late for that now / So just to feel something, let’s do this song.” This poignant sentiment represents a departure from the actor’s previous work, which explores the darker sides of love. While he has occasionally played romantic leads, the bulk of his work has focused on characters that are emotionally opaque.

After ‘Just To Feel Something’, the album’s final track, ‘I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You’, which is dedicated to his mother, closes it on a relatively happy note. The song begins with a string of syrupy synths, before giving way to some propulsive bass and a snarling, skanking beat. The production values on this track are some of the highest on the album, with a co-production credit going to longtime friend and producer, Owen Morris. This is the first song on the record where Pattinson’s vocals and lyrics are in sync. The track is also the first where he doesn’t sound completely like Peter Parker. He lets loose with a growl on this one, which would become a feature of his vocal style on this album and beyond. In the “Shiny And New” video, which features the song, Pattinson can be seen rapping along to the track with some impressive verses.

Despite the ups and downs of his personal life, which has seen him go from being one of Hollywood’s hottest stars to becoming the butt of many a joke, it’s evident that, as an artist, Robert Pattinson is still finding his feet. He has released three solo albums to date and, while they have all enjoyed critical acclaim, none of them have reached the top of the charts or been particularly successful financially. However, in the past year alone, his band has gone from being virtually unknown to being one of the most in-demand groups in popular music, with the album becoming their most popular release to date and the band becoming a mainstay on the festival circuit. It wouldn’t be a surprise if, in the near future, this former heartthrob became a bona fide rock star.