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Royal Headache's self-titled debut album from 2012 was a 26-minute blast of fuzz rock pop gems, and the immediacy of its scrappy but electrifying guitar work is what earned them a fanbase who drifted over from garage and lo-fi tendencies. However, Royal Headache's real ace in the hole is the gloriously soulful voice of Shogun, their singer, who reportedly took eight months to perfect his performance on the debut album. 'High', the early single and title track from their second album indicated that Royal Headache know perfectly well where their major asset is. By pushing Shogun's vocals to the fore in what was their most joyous and catchy song to date they created a slightly tipsy, Poguesian treat. This aroused the attention of several new fans, while simultaneously slightly confusing older fans who were expecting something a little scrappier.

Upon hearing the first chords of 'My Own Fantasy', High's opening track, the sprightly guitar immediately has echoes of Joan Jett, and then Shogun's voice comes and sweeps you up and away as he takes us on a trip through his fantasies, his voice seemingly riding the crest of the music. This momentum follows into 'Need You', which finds Shogun bursting his lungs in desperate pleading, while the guitars tumble. At this point, listeners new and old should both immediately hooked in, as the songs hark back to late '70s rock while boasting some of their most finely-tuned hooks.

The influences are clear throughout; as well as hints of the aforementioned Pogues and Joan Jett, you'll find homages to The Replacements' sunny jangle pop ('Carolina') and Buzzcocks' chainsaw guitars ('Electric Shock'). But, the real highlight of the collection is also its most surprising; the mid-album tent-pole and song of the year contender 'Wouldn't You Know'. The song drastically peels back the guitar fuzz, and in fact has a verse that does away with it entirely in favour of a swinging, slightly bluesy bass line and luminescent, floating keyboards. This delicate concoction sets the stage for Shogun's rich, syrupy vocals, before the chorus kicks in and he amps up to his most powerful and heartbreaking performance to date with the melancholic-yet-powerful refrain about a naïve, unloved subject. It is the finest and truest torch song of recent years, and should be a star-making turn for the band.

Despite having several elements that hark back to classic rock bands, High never comes close to sounding trite or uninspired. This is because Royal Headache revere those bands, but they also hold up soul and R&B in the same light, and that can certainly be heard throughout too. This gives them so much versatility in their sound, and with Shogun they have a voice that can keep up. Every song is packed with vocal thrills, whether it's the rasping and sorrowful performance in 'Love Her If I Tried', or when his voice weaves through breakneck guitars like a high-speed motorcyclist as it does on 'Little Star', to name a couple. Needless to say, despite its seemingly slight 29-minute length, High packs in more than enough ideas, hooks and moments of pure emotion that it will not wear out anytime soon.

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