Monday, February 06, 2012

Band Of Skulls: "Sweet Sour" (album review)

Some albums succeed by making you feel dirty, yet oh so good at the same time.  There are instances when Sweet Sour, the new album from UK's Band Of Skulls, is one of those albums.

When they are at their best, they are a sultry, intense blues/garage rock combination.  With the male/female vocals interaction of Russell Marsden and Emma Richardson, they verge on The Kills-like territory.

Band Of Skulls possess no shortage of power.  The record kicks off with the psychedelic title track, complete with irresistible chunky bassline.  A monster guitar riff supercharges the single "Bruises".  "You're Not Pretty But You Got It Goin' On", aside from having a tremendous title, also boasts a gritty blues-rock feel.

The wall-of-sound moments may very well be the standouts on Sweet Sour.  "Wanderluster" features a vibrant guitar line and full sound.  A hint of influence from '90s Brit Pop gives the cut a beefed-up Madchester sound.  "The Devil Takes Care Of His Own" slams you face-first into the wall-of-sound (BRMC-style) for an endorphin-releasing rush.

A brief, simple whisper during the refrain of "Lies" adds an unexpected twist.  The tune takes on a theatrical flair which is vaguely reminiscent of, if you can believe this, Alice Cooper.

The mood fall apart a bit when Band Of Skulls slows things down.  Tame songs like "Navigate", "Hometowns", and "Close To Nowhere" sound like a band pausing to catch their breath.  They aim for dreamy on "Lay My Head Down", and with the arrangements they succeed.  However, the vocals are far too pushy to allow the song as a whole to fall into that realm.

For two-thirds of Sweet Sour, Band Of Skulls are an unstoppable locomotive, destined to take the listener down into a fiery trainwreck with them.  And it's a delightful out-of-control ride.  I suggest sticky to those tracks and experiencing the record distilled down to its most intense form.

Band Of Skulls play The Phoenix in Toronto on March 30th.

Best tracks: "The Devil Takes Care Of His Own", "Sweet Sour"

Track listing for Sweet Sour:
  • Sweet Sour
  • Bruises
  • Wanderluster
  • The Devil Takes Care Of His Own
  • Lay My Head Down
  • You're Not Pretty But You Got It Goin' On
  • Navigate
  • Hometowns
  • Lies
  • Close To Nowhere

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