While 2009 debut Baby Darling Doll Face Honey saw them heralded alongside the likes of the Kills, the Subways, and the Duke Spirit as the U.K.'s answer to the White Stripes, Southampton trio Band of Skulls' second effort, Sweet Sour, reflects the contrasting nature of its title by embracing a more wistful melodic side alongside their more familiar scuzzy garage rock sound. The towering basslines and frenzied psychedelic riffs of the opening title track, the old-fashioned grizzly blues of "The Devil Takes Care of His Own" and "You're Not Pretty But You Got It Goin' On," and the Pixies-influenced sludge rock of the epic "Bruises" show they can still get "down and dirty" with the best of them. But the album remains just as dynamic on the more introspective material, largely thanks to the atmospheric production from Ian Davenport (Supergrass, Badly Drawn Boy), which perfectly complements frontman Russell Marsden and bassist Emma Richardson's gorgeous interweaving harmonies on the smoldering folk of "Close to Nowhere," the slow-burning Americana of "Navigate," and the dreamy acoustic balladry of "Hometowns." Keeping listeners on their toes, the monstrous dubstep-inspired middle-eight interrupting the otherwise beautifully melancholic "Lay My Head Down" and the fuzz-rock chorus exploding after the gently shimmering Warpaint-esque verses of "Wanderluster" are further indication of the band's confidence. And confident they should be, as while there are still traces of Jack White's many projects throughout its ten tracks, it's a much more focused and intriguing follow-up that may provide a much-needed shot in the arm for the guitar-bass-drums three-piece formula.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien