Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Dead Weather - "Sea of Cowards"

Not even a year after the release of their debut, Jack White’s heavy blues-rock vehicle The Dead Weather return this week with the release of Sea of Cowards. Though not as immediately hooky as its predecessor, the new album struts and stomps its way deep into your memory with Jack Lawrence’s rumbling bass lines that threaten to dissolve the very ground you are listening on, Dean Fertita’s fuzzy vintage organ freak-outs, and the dueling vocal howls of Allison Mosshart and Jack White, who wrecks from behind the drum set. Jack takes the lead more often on vocals this time around but sometimes it is hard to tell which of the two are snarling.

Album opener, “Blue Blood Blues” bruises with spastic guitar squelches, fuzzed-out bass and gothic doo-wop background vocals. “Hustle And Cuss” features a ride cymbal-heavy beat and "shooting star" synthesizers along with a sleazy blues guitar riff and one of the more infectious choruses on the album. “The Difference Between Us” emerges from left field with its buzzing electro-rock laced with an electronic beat. “I’m Mad” features a pulsating bass line and oscillating synths as Jack White puts on a psychotic vocal performance with maniacal laughter. First single, “Die By The Drop” features Allison’s seething vocal stance and a catchy call-and-response chorus. The flammable “Gasoline” is led by a fat vintage organ and features a blistering dueling guitar solo for a textbook study of Classic Rock. The same can be said of “No Horse” with its Led Zeppelin-like “stomp and circumstance”. “Looking At The Invisible Man” features creaking synths and pitch-shifted alien vocals for a weird trip. And “Old Mary” closes out the album with a haunting rumination with clattering drums and plodding pianos.

If Horehound sounded a bit rushed and more like the product of an impromptu jam session, Sea of Cowards is the opposite. The time spent on the road certainly made the band tighter, heavier and yes, weirder. Hopefully we can expect another great album next year…

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