[sic] Magazine

Royal Headache – High

Nature abhors a vacuum and so it seems does retro-leaning garage-rock. In the four silent years since Royal Headache’s superb S/T debut bands like Philadeplhia’s Sheer Mag have risen to prominence, now taking the plaudits that Sydney’s finest should still be sharing. In a cute twist though, the two will at least soon be sharing a stage, heading out on tour together shortly.

Tainting the party vibe, however, will be the nagging knowledge that High is a break-up album in two senses. On a well-worn level it details frontman Shogun’s split from a significant other (the title-track is a thinly veiled allegory about coming off an addiction), but more importantly, so the story goes, it’ll also be his last ride with the band too – a decision taken way back in 2014.

To put it simply, he’ll be missed. Sure, the band have a stream of energetic melodies that most would kill for, but it’s Shogun’s range that seals the deal. One minute he’s crooning gruffly in the Rod Stewart mould, the next inciting Melbourne-baiting riots. Through a barrage of ramshackle harmonies and sing-song riffs he can chew his choruses like Paul Weller in the 70s, too. And then there’s his calling card as heard on a killer track like “Need You” during which he bobs along like a lo-fi soul singer, the band’s trademark anti-production helping him to scuff up one of High’s wheeziest pop overtones.

Only on the melancholy “Wouldn’t You Know” does Shogun let it all get the better of him. Stripped of aggression, his pining vocals conjure a strong current of emotion. It’s a glimpse into the future for you get the impression that Shogun’s gonna miss Royal Headache as much as they’ll miss him. “I write about four songs a week, and they’re all about things happening in my life. I’m no poet; this is just my way of dealing with the world around me and my place within it.” These aren’t the words of a quitter. Whatever the guise you can guarantee he’ll be back, though if it takes him another four years they’ll be a whole new set of challengers to court.

Best track: “Need You”

~High is released August 21st 2015 via What’s Your Rupture?~