Sweet and Sour Skull Candy

The deeply anticipated second album from Band of Skulls is available on iTunes now and hitting all other major retailers on Valentines Day. The album, Sweet Sour, shows how the British trio’s sound has evolved over the past few years.  It’s a fresh sound for them, yet one that hearkens back to the classic album rock of the Seventies.

The title track gets the album off to a powerful heavy soulful rock sound.  It’s got a big classic rock feel to it and sets the course for the remainder of the album. Russell Marsden’s vocals and guitar take a new turn for the band with good results. The drums of Matt Hayward are excellent, as well.

Overall, the album is quite diverse, as the band pushes new boundaries and tests new waters.  Most of it works great, and it is a fun listen.  There are a couple of tracks that don’t quite hit the mark, but they’re in the minority.

“Wanderluster” is a creative new approach that works perfectly.  It’s a fluid song where the tempo ebbs and flows fantastically and Marsden’s tender vocals pull it together nicely. Emma Richardson grabs the vocals and shines on “Lies.” This uptempo song is 2:30 seconds of rock and roll perfection, and my favorite song on the album. You’ll find a handful of other excellent powerful rock tunes, such as the bass-driven “Bruises” and “The Devil Takes Care of His Own.”

There’s also a nice selection of slower tunes on Sweet Sour, the best of which is Richardson’s beautiful “Hometown.” It’s got a sweet ballad feel, with lyrics that make you re-think its sweetness. “Navigate” is another of the slower tunes that works extremely well.  The vocals and guitar are hypnotic and memorable.

It’s not all perfect, and there are a couple of songs I could easily do without. The final track, “Close To Nowhere” feels like a B-Side. “Lay My Head Down” starts off as a delicate ballad with great potential, then suffers what seems like a random explosion of miscellaneous musical crap for a few seconds before sliding back into ballad mode. Sure, it’s creative, but it just doesn’t work, unfortunately, wasting a good song.

Overall, it’s a damn good album.  A nice flashback to the powerful arena rock from the classic Seventies with a great modern twist.  The Sweet far outweighs the Sour and we’ll be hearing cuts off of this one for years to come.

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