* Sweet Sour
* Band of Skulls
* Rating: ****
Torn pictures,stonewashed jeans,a humid garage and a monster drum kit. The era of garage rock almost seemed over. But when Band of Skulls released their debut album,Baby Darling Doll Face Honey,in 2009,their rowdy hits like Friends,Blood and Death by diamonds and pearls attracted curiosity for a genre that is rarely experimented with in mainstream music: garage rock. Now,the Southampton band is back with their second album,Sweet Sour,and it wouldnt be an exaggeration to say that Band of Skulls is one of the best things to come out of British rock in recent times.
Comprising drummer Matt Hayward,guitarist and vocalist Russell Marsden,and bassist and vocalist Emma Richardson,Sweet Sour is a homage to garage blues-rock,which is almost a trademark of American band The Black Keys. Band of Skulls,however,takes the genre a notch higher. The track list is full of surprises,beginning with Sweet sour,a raw number with edgy riffs and metal-esque drums,and the defiant vocals of Marsden and Richardson that merge perfectly. As much as the first track is brusque,the second track,Bruises,is broody and the guitar act smoothens a little to suit the mood. Wanderluster picks up the momentum with its classic twirling riffs,playful,throbbing drums and rebellious notes. This is followed by a very garage The devil takes care of his own,complete with its rough edges and abrasive cuts,and Lay my head down,a soft,drowsy number.
You aint pretty but you got it goin on,which is jarring,jumpy and simply disappointing,is the low point of the album,but is balanced out by Navigate,a blues-rock song that takes one through smooth,tinkering riffs and soothing,romantic notes. The best part of the album is Hometowns,a haunting,folksy number in which the use of instruments,unlike in the rest of the album,is kept to a minimum. Band of Skulls falls perfectly between thrashing metal-heads and pining soft-rock,with a rawness that never goes out of control.