Royal Headache's eponymous album travels through time and space
Royal Headache (What’s Your Rupture?)
Get ready to see a certain New York City five-piece invoked in every review you read about Royal Headache. The Australian quartet won’t be able to avoid the comparison. The band makes the same kind of racket that the Strokes did back in 2001, namely a pared-down but smartly arranged and tightly played brand of punkish rock topped by snottily melodic singing.
While I’d wager that the Aussies were influenced in some part by Julian Casablancas and company, Royal Headache is more than a carbon copy of the Strokes. For one thing, Royal Headache is considerably more lo-fi than Is This It, which makes it sound like a relic from a time earlier than a decade ago. Based on the storming but catchy opening track, “Really in Love”, it’s not hard to imagine Royal Headache rehearsing in the same Sydney garage as the Easybeats, circa 1967. Mind you, the latter would probably toss the former out for playing too loud and wrecking the PA.
Singer Shogun (good luck finding his real name) shouts and he yelps but he never loses sight of the tune, which lends songs like “Back and Forth” a tension between sonic extremes—punk on one side and soul on the other. His lyrical concerns are those of a man who finds himself at 30, with diminishing prospects but a sincere desire to start getting his shit together. Or at least that’s one way to read it; it’s admittedly difficult to make out what he’s saying most of the time. “Am I much too old to be a good boy?” he ponders on “Honey Joy”, while on “Down the Lane” he outlines ones of the difficulties of seducing the ladies when you’ve lived on your own for too long: “I’d take you home, but my bedroom smells like come.”
Okay, that’s a little too much information, but give Shogun points for brutal honesty. With 11 songs in just under 27 minutes, Royal Headache clearly isn’t a band that likes to dwell on things, so if something squicks you out, at least you know it’ll be over soon.