This ‘Royal Headache’ article was written by Macon Oxley, a GIGsoup contributor
Sydney punks, Royal Headache, impress with the follow-up to their 2011 debut, the simply-named, High.
Much in the vein of their previous releases, the four-man alliance soldier on with their own brand of rough-edged catchy punk. That said, there are spots on this album showcasing what could be the makings of a more refined garage-cum-soul sound – something evident, though perhaps slightly downplayed on the band’s debut.
Raucous and ready, and featuring some great feel-good choruses, the punk energy of High very much encapsulates the spirit of 1977 in places, with some of the more fast-paced numbers sounding a little like how one might’ve imagined Buzzcocks to have sounded with Paul Weller, rather than Pete Shelley, assuming the vocals.
This vocal styling crops up on a few occasions over the duration of the album, but despite his ‘Weller-ings’, singer Shogun certainly doesn’t limit himself and isn’t too shy to bare his oesophageal assets to the listener. Proving something of a vocal chameleon, the singer demonstrates his ability to affect a more soulful rasp on tracks like Need You, whilst offering up a lighter touch on the penultimate Carolina.
With an overriding punk theme seemingly forming the underpinning of this album, departures such as Love Her if I Tried and Wouldn’t You Know could be seen as songs adding a little variety, but instead do more to disrupt the pace of this otherwise high-energy affair.
With a more lamentful and more painstaking longing to the lyrics in the slower areas, the band seem to be giving musical nods to some of their soul influences, and although we’re given a tour of more ambitious musical avenues, it’s fair to say that the delivery perhaps lacks some of the maturity required for a more authentic performance within these particular stylistic realms.
Taking a few forays into what other observers and critics of the band have referred to as “soul-punk”, the band do little to convince on the soul front – arguably more Mick Hucknall than Marvin Gaye. Though it’s uncertain whether the band take much pride in that tag, which could of course be a lazy attempt by others to genre-peg them, the sound is certainly a little too adolescent to warrant a soul association. Quite unfair, really, as the latter part of that label definitely rings true.
Yet despite all that unfair labelling, this album without a doubt delivers where it’s needed. Perhaps falling ill of an uneven pace in its entirety, High still serves as a good, catchy no-frills rocker with a real honesty about it.
Available now, you can find High on What’s Your Rupture?