The four year gap between Sydney natives Royal Headache’s self-titled debut album and the follow-up High have been strange. Amidst frontman Shogun’s talk of Royal Headache disbanding, discussion about a second album from the band and news about a tour to go with it, it’s been a roller coaster ride. But now that the band is confirmed to be staying together and High is finally upon us, we’re given free rein to enjoy the album without worrying about it being their last.
At the same time, it still leaves us in a bit of a weird position. One could argue that High is easily good enough to send them off on a high note; had it actually been their last album, it would have been a fitting and amazing end. The better way to look at it is that High is a sign of great things to come in the future.
The album sticks straight to Royal Headache’s roots. The blaring punk sound is still there, with buzzing guitars taking the foreground as Shogun manages to keep his vocals above the mayhem, not always successful but always fitting stylistically. From the breakneck speed of Another World to the slower groove of Wouldn’t You Know and Carolina, it’s a cohesive and spirited piece of work. The addition of organ to the line-up was another good touch, especially on Need You. The racing pace of the song is countered by the organ’s extended notes, and it gives the song that extra little element that really makes it work.
Truth be told, the album’s only real downfall is its length. At ten tracks and a half hour in length it’s a short and sweet listen, but one that didn’t necessarily need to end so quickly. Applied to the songs, this is especially true for Electric Shock: It’s got some of the best energy on the album, but at a minute and a half it’s over as quick as the shock of its namesake.
If this is the album’s biggest issue though, then it’s a good sign. There’s a lot of quality material on show here, and with the hope of more coming in the future, it leaves both High and Royal Headache’s career in an amazing spot. Even if it would have been a good note to end their career on, it’s a better one to continue it on.