There’s something going on in the garage space, something of a miniature revival of trashy, easy, excitable rock music. This year we’ve heard The Men and OFF!, and now we have Royal Headache. All three are different sounds, but there’s a clear aesthetic of glory and carefree days that runs through these albums. Now we have Royal Headache’s self titled LP, and it plays through quick and charming and dim like the memory of some past party.
There’s not really a start to this album. A guitar is already being played as the first track opens. You can probably tell within those first thirty seconds before the vocals come in whether this is for you, and it’s so joyous and comes out from the band with such ease that you’ll likely be sucked straight in. The vocals on these tracks are surprisingly low in the mix. At most, they’re on par with everything else, and certainly sound as though they’re bellowed from within some small practice space. The singer never fights against his limitations nor the music thriving around him. Instead, he seems to be having fun and singing for the sake of it. What’s around him is both familiar and excitingly fresh. It’s warmth and rebellion against nothing in particular.
The second track opens with a guitar jangle that’s indistinguishable from that on the first track. For the most part, the entire album is this way. You might be able to identify the front against the back half, which switches into something of an old time rock n’ roll feel, but for the most part, the album is a whirr of largely similar pieces, though you’d never care for it to do anything differently. There’s the track Really in Love where he sings “Are you really in love?” and the track Surprise where he sings, “I wanted it to be a surprise.” It’s all the differentiation we really need.
Tracks like Girls help to clarify exactly what it is Royal Headache are tapping into. The music is all the same, but as the singer howls, “Whoa-oa-oa girls!,” this simple statement seems to say it all. In it we can feel the breadth of emotion the expanded sentiment evokes, we can replay the entire conversation from that one midsummer night when it was warm and sticky and we were out on the patio of our favorite coffee shop drinking Italian sodas and discussing what’s to come. The album’s back half is just a bit slowed down, and maybe even a little wistful at times. It’s an appropriate response to what’s come before it, but it never slows enough to trip up the pacing. These songs never crack the three minute mark, but they do plenty in 2:30.
This album doesn’t beg to be paid strict attention to. Though it never changes much, the album never becomes repetitive, if not simply because it never actually stops. It’s fleeting and full of a certain feeling that the band wants to hang on to. This album may just be a summer relationship, some transient memory full of emotion and joy, and just as quickly, gone.