Don't let that picture fool you: these cats cannot possibly be sitting down when they roar through the rockers on this new one. High, out Friday on What's Your Rupture?, is the latest, thoroughly superb record from Australia's Royal Headache.
As the band blazes through tracks like "High" and "Need You", the mind races at how to write about what is probably best described as an Australian version of early Superchunk. Not quite punk, and certainly more robust than any indiepop, the beefy rock of Royal Headache is, in large measure, in a class by itself. "Another World" channels both those North Carolina legends I mentioned above as well as earlier hits from The Buzzcocks. If "Wouldn't You Know" is a slight misstep, at least it's a catchy one and it's remedied quickly by the nearly-hardcore punch of "Garbage".
"Love Her If I Tried" buzzes with promise while "Carolina" adds a softer shade to the band's usual black-and-white rock. The album closes, like it began with the transcendent-and-raging "My Own Fantasy", with the punchy and invigorating "Little Star" and the GBV-like short-and-hard "Electric Shock" which is is over all too soon.
But there's one, very simple reason that I love Royal Headache and their music so much: it makes me happy. These songs made me glad to be alive. There's a lot of music that I enjoy but only so many tunes that I can say that about. Stuff like "High" sends chills up the spine and a big grin across the face. Without a sense of ironic detachment, a wistful-but-punchy tune like "My Own Fantasy" is the sort of rocker that The Ramones could crank out at their peak. The cut brims with self-awareness but it never sounds like Royal Headache are trying too hard. It is the very rare act that can pull this sort of thing off so successfully and without making it seem so forced and Royal Headache are that sort of act. Effortlessly rockin' and thoroughly inspiring, High by Royal Headache is a nearly seamless set of jams that blend the best of hard rock and punk with a healthy dose of power pop riffs.
High is out on Friday via What's Your Rupture?.
Follow Royal Headache on their official Facebook page.