Album Review: Royal Headache – High

There must be something in the water over in Australia, y’know, besides sharks and crocodiles and stuff. For a country that’s nearly half desert, there have been some absolutely cracking bands coming from it in recent times, and Sydney’s Royal Headache are no exception.

What’s more, they’ve got their own identity. Most modern Australian bands tend to gravitate towards the well-trodden paths of metalcore or chugga-chugga hardcore, this quartet have opted for something completely different. Theirs is the sound of carefree indie-punk, reminiscent of so many different bands and artists but ‘High’ never stoops to being a copy. Opener ‘Fantasy’ slots in the middle ground of The Jam’s quintessentially British punk and Circa Waves’ jangly beach-indie, while ‘Need You’ is one of the best songs The Strokes never wrote.

High by Royal Headache

The true beauty of Royal Headache though, is that they’ve seemingly nailed the ability to write a truly great pop song, but with plenty of bite and grit. There’s no pretense – just a clutch of brilliant songs that take the best of pop music’s heyday, and updating them just enough to sound relevant in 2015, but also firmly grounded in the past. It also manages to remain interesting by mixing up its formula – far too many bands of their ilk attempt to get by simply on breakneck speed alone, but Royal Headache know the importance of nuance. That’s why there’s ‘Wouldn’t You Know’ in the middle of the tracklist to break things up. It’s a shining light of ‘High’’s runtime, a much slower, more contemplative tune that sees vocalist Shogun turn it down a few gears to more of a croon for a song it genuinely wouldn’t be too difficult to imagine Elvis singing.

That’s one of the many reasons that ‘High’ is so excellent – Royal Headache are fully aware of influences past and present, and have managed to fuse them together in a fashion that’s more concise than the attempts of most bands. You mightn’t have heard of them yet, but if everything goes right that shouldn’t stay the case for long. In fact, ‘High’ may be one of the most surprisingly good albums released this year.


‘High’ by Royal Headache is released on 21st August on What’s Your Rupture?

Royal Headache links: Website|Facebook|Twitter|Bandcamp

Words by Luke Nuttall(@nuttall_luke)

Leave a Reply