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Band of skulls - get inside your head
on 11 July 2009
Downloaded this album very cheaply from I Tunes. There is a real buzz about this power trio from Southampton and it's easy to see why. The album is not particularly challenging or original but is a perfect soundtrack to the summer and should happily rock from car stereos across the land. Indeed its great to see a UK band exploring territory which almost has a US copyright and succeeding in making it their own. I had previously heard the single "I don't know what I am" and actually thought it was the White Stripes albeit at their most commercial. Indeed White Stripes references abound on the first three tracks which is not a bad thing if the songs are as good as these (although I not certain about the record title).
Band of Skulls play with such confidence and verve that it's hard not to believe that they been around for years. "Death by Diamond and Pearls" does indeed evoke the squiggly purple one (Prince) with a very raunchy guitar riff before it heads off into Black Keys territory. "Blood" is swamp blues beautifully sung by Emma Richardson whose voice resonates very much like the great P J Harvey. Richardson shares vocal duties with lead guitarist Russell Mardsen. "Fires" is sung by both and is a great rock song.
I actually like the songs on this album most which detour from the more conventional rock format. Cold Fame is one of these and the album highlight. A very slow almost Radiohead like lament and is probably incredible live. Similarly the folksy and acoustic "Honest" sung beautifully by Richardson again steers into territory where perhaps the Band of Skulls will spend more time in the future. Mixing folk songs, blues and rock highlight that the true lineage of the "Band of Skulls" is the classic British rock of Cream and Led Zeppelin with some Pretenders thrown in for good measure. Indeed "Light of the Morning" sounds like something off Zeppelin's BBC sessions with drummer Matthew Hayward bashing away in true Bonham style over a Page style heavy blues riff. Perhaps upon reflection this album wears its influences a bit too openly its sleeve but this is a very new band and to hit this quality this early is astounding. An album then chock full of huge choruses and huge riffs and very commercial to boot, you suspect that this band has got what it takes to mount a frontal assault on the charts and no doubt headline a festival or two. Let us hope when doing so they develop the template set out here in a deeper way as the song "Dull Gold Heart" suggests is immanently possible. A new British band to watch with real interest.