Tuesday 22 November 2011

Love Me A Royal Headache

OK, so I kinda blew my wad over Witch Hats' Pleasure Syndrome. Well, I better change my pants AGAIN, because we have another absolute killer jumping out of the gates and totally destroying all preconceptions about what it means to create good music.

Royal Headache, in their debut self-titled longplayer, have done something that revels in its unaffectedness. In fact, it’s hard to imagine in this world today how such a band can exist. Devoutly and intrinsically DIY, these rabblerousers don’t pride themselves in living the music they play or the reputation they may garner; they just are. Now that Pitchfork et al (and to an extent, the glaring spotlight also turns on me, for better or worse) are espousing their brilliance, their progression can only go one of two ways - implosion, deliberate obscurity, or an evolution of sound. As it stands, then, 2011 will be a time capsule for the group, for this point forward their lives aren't likely to be the same unless they wilfully make it so. Therefore thank fuck for Royal Headache, an album chock full of influences, garage tendencies, fundamental mistakes and innate love of what they do that a better template of what it means to be rock and roll may not subsist.

OK, so that sounds like an outrageous declaration. However, after one listen to this album it becomes evident that this kind of lightning cannot be emulated. Each track on Royal Headache brims to overflowing with original wants, demands and expectations – this is fun, dammit. No pretensions, or aloofness, or affectations.

Maybe it comes from the juxtaposition between the frenetic musical interplay and the almost friendly, appeasing vocal stylings of vocalist Shogun (the comparisons to Ted Leo notwithstanding - and more than a little OTT) – his crooning on 'Back And Forth' when offset by the manic garage punk wailings becomes a beast unto itself. Shit, there is a song that sounds like fucking Rod Stewart! But 'Honey Joy', one of the strongest songs on offer, shows exactly who Royal Headache are. A song filled with heart-rending despair with a hint of loving redemption, played without a hint of irony, reference wink-nudges or aspirations.

Like I said, whether this kind of alchemy can be maintained under scrutiny is dubious at best. Let's hope that they find a way.

For the love of God, buy Royal Headache now! Its becoming very difficult to buy this on record, just so's you know...

Royal Headache - Girls
Royal Headache - Down The Lane
Royal Headache - Honey Joy

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