Band of Skulls Mixes Things Up On "Sweet Sour"
At some points during the record, Band of Skulls even sound like a band that aspires to headline festivals and sell out arenas worldwide.
Some of the weaknesses of their first album, "Baby Darling Doll Face Honey," have been turned into strengths on their latest effort and co-vocalists Russell Marsden (guitar) and Emma Richardson (bass) truly gel on "Sweet Sour."
However, what’s most exciting about the album is the dynamics. One moment Russell and Emma sing angelic melodies, the next they assault you with heavily distorted, head banging riffs.
Overall, "Sweet Sour" is a great listen. The band does a good job of mixing up heavy rockers with slow jams, but some of the tracks don’t stack up to the others.
It sometimes sounds like Band of Skulls rushed to finish the record, and as a result not every single song shines.
Oh well, nobody’s perfect.
Let’s take a closer look, track by track:
"Sweet Sour": "Sweet Sour" opens, appropriately, with the title track. It’s an instant classic filled with a nice, heavy riff and a catchy chorus. It’s a nice bridge from "Baby Darling Doll Face Honey" to the new material, since it sounds like the older stuff, but still sets the tone for the rest of the album.
"Bruises": This song is a rock anthem. For the first time, Emma and Russell show off their new, moving harmonies and their development as songwriters. This song is definitely meant for a live performance; it would just sound best with thousands of people singing along.
"Wanderluster": Here Band of Skulls flaunt some of their musicianship. The song is in a funky time signature, giving it a groove previously unheard on their songs. Little things like that keep this album from feeling stale and uninspiring.
"The Devil Takes Care Of His Own": A quintessential Band of Skulls jam. Thrashing drums, a chunky, sinister riff, and Emma and Russell singing like they mean it.
"Lay My Head Down": One of the most interesting songs on Sweet Sour. At first it sounds like another lovely, little love song, similar to “Honest” on "Baby Darling Doll Face Honey," but better. Then out of nowhere comes this freight train of noise. I can imagine the band listening to deadmau5’s “Raise Your Weapon” and saying, “Hey! Let’s do that, that dubstep thing in the middle, but with guitars instead of computers.” They succeeded.
"You’re Not Pretty But You’ve Got It Goin On": This semi-insulting song also explores new territory for Band of Skulls. It sounds like the drummer, Matt Hayward, on vocals for starters, but in addition it has a southern rock feel to it. Ted Nugent may like this song, but will Band of Skulls fans?
"Navigate": This slow, Emma-driven song is a nice change of pace from the mainly hectic, up-beat songs up to this point. Mixing it up with acoustic guitar and a fairly quiet bass line helps, too.
"Hometown": Before picking up the pace again, Band of Skulls give their fans a soothing lullaby with “Hometown.” It may not be the most exciting song on the album, but fans will appreciate it during the live show. Everyone needs a rest after rocking out to some of the burners.
"Lies": This song feels a little forced. It doesn’t add much to the record as a whole, and for the most part, it sounds redundant. Like “Bomb” on their first album, it’s a little boring. Not their best effort.
"Close To Nowhere": Band of Skulls end their record with a slow, heart-felt song that takes the listener on a full arc across the emotional spectrum. After starting loud and raucous, they send the listeners off to bed and wish them sweet (not sour) dreams. The song is a little flat since it lacks dynamics, but it’s still a nice way to wrap things up.
Check out Band of Skulls’ new single, “Sweet Sour,” available for download here.
Reach Alex Shapiro here.