Sweet Sour

2/7/12
8.0ARTIST INFO

Sometimes, I like to rawk. You too? If you're a rock fan wondering, "What is the best music I should be listening to right now?" my answer is this: Band of Skulls' new album, "Sweet Sour."

"Sweet Sour," dropping in the U.S. this Tuesday, is the U.K. throwback indie rock trio's sophomore album, a follow up to 2009's "Baby Darling Dollface Honey." And unlike a lot of indie rock bands with impressive breakthrough albums and "Um, what happened?" second albums (e.g., MGMT, Arcade Fire, The Strokes, Kings of Leon, etc.), "Sweet Sour" is every bit as solid as its awesome predecessor. Maybe even more so.

"Sweet Sour" is just that: sweet and sour. Sweet, silky harmonies coupled with sour, crunchy guitar riffs and dirty bass. It's the contrast and the interplay of these two elements that make the band work and it's what makes them stand out from the herd. Most importantly, their songs are memorable, radio-friendly (mostly), some of them stadium-worthy, even. Standouts on this album include the title track, "Bruises," and "Devil Takes Care of His Own" ... a sour stomper reminiscent of "Light of the Morning" off their first record.

The frequent comparisons of Band to Skulls to the White Stripes are not unwarranted. But with their complex, layered melodies, two lead singers (including the Jack White-sounding Russell Marsden, who also does lead guitar, and the satin-voiced Emma Richardson, who also handles bass), and world-weary lyrics, Band of Skulls sometimes captures an almost haunted sound that's more reminiscent of Wye Oak than it is Jack and Meg.

Perhaps part of the reason why Band of Skulls sounds so damn good is that they're such skilled song writers. BoS songs are pretty technical, which is another thing that sets them apart from the fly-by-night, we-played-SXSW-shit-drunk indie bands. A lot of work goes into these guys' craft. Take "Sweet Sour"'s haunting "Navigate." Russell Marsden told SPIN that the band literally has 1,000 different versions of this song. A THOUSAND. Oh, and that the coda for "Navigate" is perfectly symmetrical. Their songs have innumerable arrangements and mathematical constructions? Wow, what are they, like, real musicians or something?

A warning... while there are some choice, chunky, bluesy, rawkin tracks on "Sweet Sour," about half of the album showcases the band's sweet, introspective (read: acoustic) side. So if you get bored by the stuff that's not especially adrenaline-infused, then you might not love this album.

That said, there are no "filler" songs. And even the slow songs aren't super sweet. Listen to "Lay My Head Down," a track which starts out sleepy and acoustic, only to rev up to a HUGE, dark, heavy bass bridge three minutes in. "Bruises," with its sweet, harmonized verses and guitar heavy, anthem-like chorus is another "sweet and sour" gem on this record.

So, Band of Skulls isn't exactly reinventing the wheel. But they are pretty unique and they are good. Despite still being relatively unknown, I have a feeling that we haven't seen the last of these guys. Listen to the album and decide for yourself. (Oh yeah, you can stream the full album from SPIN.com here.)

Come back to BitCandy the next time you find yourself asking what is the best music goin' on right now?" and we'll have more tasty, filtered music for your hungry ears.

Lyrics to Bruises:

Take this rise and this fall
One and all
I wish that I could give you more
Gonna have to break the law

I've got more to give
Than I've first thought to give
We'll have to make a pact
Or something like that

Something good
A little trouble in your neighborhood
Or understanding that you're understood, oh I kinda wish you would

Give yourself to the world
Baby girl
Spread your wings and uncurl
To the world

You've got more to give
Than you first thought to give
We'll have to make a pact
Or something like that
Or something like that

Something good
A little trouble in your neighborhood
Or understanding that you're understood, oh I kinda wish you would

Something real
Another feeling that you never feel
Another reason that you wanna be alive just to watch the bruises heal

Something good
A little trouble in your neighborhood
Or understanding that you're understood, oh I kinda wish you would

Something real
Another feeling that you never feel
Another reason that you wanna be alive just to watch the bruises heal

 

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