Once in a while, an album that justifies all the hype comes along. Boys & Girls, Alabama Shakes' first album, is such a beast. A mixture of soulful, understated, echo-laden rock with singer Brittany Howard's timeless vocals providing the spellbinding focus of the music, this Alabama foursome are the real McCoy. Delivering her lyrics with passion, a world-weariness that one in her early twenties has no right to possess and the ballsy confidence of someone with utter belief in her material, she really does, rightly or wrongly, steal the show. This is far from a perfect début, but there are enough top quality songs to stamp their mark on the music scene and make the album, as a whole, a thoroughly enjoyable and frequently thrilling experience. Without a doubt, "Hold On" is the best thing on offer here and, although it's absolutely brilliant, you have to question the wisdom of putting their most astonishing song on first. However, perseverance rewards and tracks such as "I Found You", "Hang Loose", "You Ain't Alone", "Heartbreaker" and "Be Mine" reveal themselves to be strong contenders for everybody's second favourite cut on the album. I'd recommend Boys & Girls for any lovers of passionate, heart-felt soul with a rougher edge.