By Jesii Dee
Whew, listening to this record straight through is a mental work out. Full disclosure: Royal Headache is totally outside my personal usual sound choice, but that was part of the fun. This Australian four-piece thunders their way through their second record, High, and the results are fantastic. From the first track, the energy levels are up and rarely come back down for long until the close of the record. It gives some serious call backs to early - dare I say Classic - Punk Rock and that DGAF mentality associated with it. But don't be fooled, within it lies some fantastic melodies, complex guitar & drums that don't quit.
The record is fast & loud, but they are never out of control. With a good clean sound overall, to allow for the full effect to sink in without the over tones of too many fuzzy effects. The first track, "My Own Fantasy," starts things off with a rush. with singer Shogun proclaiming how he used to live in a world of rock-n-roll, but it was his own fantasy. The harshness of the music industry are humanizing it seems even for punk rockers.
"Need You" is a little more polished, and has an unequivocal similarity to The Strokes. I'm not mad about it. The song has a surprising twist with an organ thrown in the mix, and it centers the song among the wild ranging vocals. The title track, "High," sends the vibes back into the punk zone. Pleading out during the last seconds of the song "Come get me // You get me high // Please come get me // You get me high." Who hasn't had that moment of desperation with a lover? Whether it worked out or not, is not the question here.
The album rumbles on through "Another World," and lands softly for a brief moment on "Wouldn't You Know," changing things up tonally. Vocals are sung clearly and cleanly on this track, sounding very much to me like some hard rock ballads from the 70's. But the moment is gone, as the track "Garbage" comes roaring back, calling someone out for being scum of the earth. "Love Her If I Tried" is a shout-it-out anthem of lost love.
The last three tracks close out the record just as it started: nostalgic and sneering on "Carolina," rambunctious and poignant on "Little Star," and ending things on a high note with "Electric Shock." The last track ties things all together, throwing back to the punk rock roots the first track displayed, "You're different now, but the world looks just the same" rings in my ears after the music stops.