Wednesday 15 February 2012

British Skulls Balance The Sweet With The Sour

I have always been on the fence with Southampton, England trio Band Of Skulls. I've felt like they walk the road most travelled, or at least the one that is paved and easy to walk on, for their brand of guitar-bass-drums is so familiar that it could be any number of acts running through their stadium-dream repertoire. So I'm pretty surprised by Sweet Sour, their latest full length.

Or more rightly, confused.

For on face value the M.O. hasn't changed one iota - Russell Marsden, Emma Richardson and Matt Hayward are still spieling out the rock jam mantra like before. Yet there is something about their unabashed love of 1970's British garage rock, their adherence to more contemporary revivalists (see The White Stripes via The Kills on 'Bruises') and their flat out refusal to rock the boat that in this instance really appeals. They are incredibly tight, and their ability to switch between spacious jams, dulcet balladry and teeth-rattling venom is perfect to a tee. Hayward's drumming is the centrifugal point for this interchange, swapping precision to aggression at the drop of a pin, whilst the interweaving of Marsden and Richardson's boy/girl vocal harmonies are spot on, with Marsden in particular taking control with both his voice and axe-shredding.

As stated earlier, there is certainly nothing inherently new here, and as seen with many other acts down the line, precise mimicry doesn't impress. But Band Of Skulls are much more than a glorified cover band. They are silky, seductive rock machine, and Sweet Sour is the perfect follow up to show that they aren't here with the also-rans - there is much more in the tank.

Sweet Sour is out through Vagrant - grab it here.

Band Of Skulls - Sweet Sour
Band Of Skulls - You're Not Pretty But You Got It Goin' On

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