Royal Headache’s self-titled debut album does not live up to its name: Neither painful-sounding nor pain-inducing, the album is in fact a very pleasurable, punk-inspired listen. This is no-nonsense, fast-flying garage rock, played by four guys whose single-word nicknames are just as straightforward as their sound: Shortty, Joe, Shogun and Law.
The Aussie quartet opens with a bang on “Never Again,” where frontman Shogun sings, “We make a fine pair, you and me/Don’t you agree?” There’s a lot of relationship talk on this album, amid the hard-hitting drums and fast and loose guitar work. Shogun’s role in it all varies: One minute he’s the counselor (asking “Are you really in love?” on “Really In Love”), and the next he’s the yearning one in need of a friend’s real talk (“Down The Lane” finds him gawking at his neighbor and wondering, “Is it love?”).
The album is best summarized in the track “Girls,” as the song brings together tough drumming, potent guitar and bass playing and Shogun’s dirty, tender vocals as he sings about trying to find Miss Right. “Does she wait for me?” he cries out. It’s impassioned and maybe a bit melodramatic, but that just makes it seem youthful. And when that sentiment is met with reckless guitars, all coming at you in under three-minute bursts, it’s like listening to these mid-20- and early-30-something guys uncork a bottle from their teenage years and letting it rip.