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Band of Skulls' 'Sweet Sour' as contradictory as its title suggests

Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 15:02

Band of Skulls

Sweet Sour

(Pias Recordings)

Grade: B-


Touring with The Dead Weather did some wonders to this trio's psyche.

Title track "Sweet Sour" is psychedelic, redundant and shameless. So right out the gate, they hit us with an irresistible throwback.

Much of Sweet Sour is punctuated by raids of heavy guitar that toughens up relatively delicate tracks like "Bruises." The album's easy on the ears, but rebels every now and then. "Wanderluster" is one of the more technical songs despite being a little forced and choppy in its time signature. Four minutes into the lulling ballad "Lay My Head Down," the band disrupts itself with a ripple of distortion and a minimalist moody guitar solo. Nice. Those who prefer their chill jams unstirred can curl up in the Foo-meets-Sia hypnotic "Navigate."

While there's no doubt that Band of Skulls can tone things down ("Close to Nowhere"), there's a lot of fat moss on this album. "You're Not Pretty But You Got It Goin' On" is a rager. "Lies" is catchy sweet sassafrass-ay. And we'll push the virtues of "Sweet Sour" again because it's just that awesome.

Band of Skulls sophomore effort is true to its title; the songs are complementary despite the obvious contrasts. That said, the album's a little diluted and doesn't take a strong stand in favor of minimal and technical compositions, so it's tough to gauge where the band's headed from here.

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