. . .
It really is a damn shame that Royal Headache broke up after High, as it was clear that they were already expanding out from their initial punk-soul formula with slow ones like “Wouldn’t You Know,” songs with long intros like “Garbage,” and their greatest song, the utterly heartbreaking “Carolina,” which is one of my very very favorite songs of the 2010s.
“Carolina” opens with guitarist Law strumming a thick acoustic guitar over which he layers a big ringing hook as bassist Joe and drummer Shortty kick in with a mid-tempo beat, all the better for Shogun to wrap his big pipes around every syllable of the first verse.
Carolina thinks she’s one of us
She’s been waiting for the train down by the bus
She’s got the kind of heart that you can’t trust
And eyes that break your mirror in disgust
And then with guitars ringing all around, they go into a chorus that kills me every single time.
Somebody savor her
Figure out how to change her heart
The singing here is off-the-charts incredible: from the holding out of “nowwwwwaaaaaooooooowww;” the super-pop “nananananana;” the squeezing in of “figureouthow,” it’s all just utterly gorgeous.
And in the end they do a cool little thing: drummer Shortty doubles up on his snare drum — still keeping things mid-tempo — as Shogun sings:
The only one that loved me turned me out into the sea
The only one that kissed me throws her eyes it’s sweet to see
The only one that stood for me was dying on his teeth
And the only one that held my heart in time
And then as Shortty builds back into a regular beat, Shogun sings the inevitable “sweeeeeeeeet Carrr-ooooo-linnnnne” before squeezing in one final “figure out how to save her heart” as the song ends.
What’s interesting is that Royal Headache knew that “Carolina” was great enough to make a video for it, but never released it as a single, not that it would have gone anywhere, except maybe in their native Australia.
“Carolina” official music video
“Carolina” live at the Pitchfork Festival, 2016
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