Royal Headache - Royal Headache (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Royal Headache

Royal Headache (2012)

What's Your Rupture?

Let's all take a late pass on Royal Headache. The Sydney-based quartet, who released this eponymous debut in 2012, draw on some scene-familiar influences like garage-punk and reverb-soaked surf rock. What sets them apart is their frontman, known only as Shogun. Shogun can fucking sing. His delivery is laced with confidence and imbued with far more soulfulness than any other band in the genre. He's supremely talented. Royal Headache is Marked Men meets Motown, and it's fantastic.

The aesthetic on Royal Headache is predictably classic; the production emphasizes fuzziness and the reverberating noise the instruments are making, rather than what notes they're hitting or missing–Y'know, it sounds like it was recorded in a garage. Bangers like "Never Again," "Really in Love" and "Girls" place Shogun squarely at the forefront, as he creates upbeat calls and improvises flourishes throughout the verses and choruses. "Surprise" is perhaps the album's most overtly soulful entry, with emphasis on a bouncing rhythm section and Shogun's soaring vocals.

Royal Headache do switch gears here and there: "Psychotic Episode" is rooted in classic punk, right down to the mind-bending lyrical content; "Back and Forth" features a somewhat tempered vocal take from Shogun, as the band create calculated, jangly chaos behind him; Hell, there's even a pair of instrumental tracks ("2 Kinds of Love," "Wilson Street") that slow things down a bit and give the talented vocalist a breather. With those sprinkled in, Royal Headache almost has the feel of a live set–one could imagine the band playing instrumental interludes live to provide Shogun a brief respite from the mic.

The back half of the album really ups the soul influence. "Down The Lane" and "Wilson Street" are both slow-dance ballads carried by hooky bass lines, slow drums and impassioned vocals. Even penultimate track "Honey Joy" incorporates what sounds like a gospel-fueled organ at its beginning before morphing into something slightly louder and more guitar-driven.

With Royal Headache releasing a new 7-inch as part of the Matador Singles Club in June, it's certain that keeping such company will increase their well-deserved visibility, and apparently they have over 30 new songs already written, so it's likely we'll hear those relatively soon. But even if Royal Headache slipped past your radar in 2012, it's worth visiting just to hear one of the most uniquely talented bands in the world.