Published Aug 19, 2015Sydney, Australia surf punks Royal Headache last left us swooning in 2011 with their earnest self-titled debut. After taking four years off to reassess their sound and re-establish their creative focus, the boys are back with their sophomore effort, High, and it seems the hiatus did them good. A fast-paced stomp of short, melodic cuts that are deliciously scuzzy, High turns up Royal Headache's heat and brings it to the boiling point.
Lead singer Shogun's voice, all Robert Smith bravado, is versatile, allowing him to be both sweet and gruff in the same breath — an effective mechanism for weaving the album's wistful tale of romantic love lost. Opening track "My Own Fantasy" dives right into blistering riffs and sugary percussion, its speed continuing on until it hits the hazy distortion of "Wouldn't You Know." From there, much like the ebb and flow of a crumbling relationship, the tone is tumultuous: angry ("Garbage"), then optimistic ("Little Star," which recites hopeful lines like "Don't be afraid of everyone 'cause, little star, there's nothing quite like love") and, eventually, burning out in an inevitable conclusion that sounds like a head-on collision between the Nerves and the Sonics ("Electric Shot").
In their quest for precision, Royal Headache have succeeded in crafting a compilation that aptly displays their musical credentials. Easy on the ears, heavy on the heart and definitely worth the wait, High will leave you feeling as such. (What's Yr Rupture?)