BAND OF SKULLS – Baby Darling Doll Face Honey (Artist First)

I had never heard of Band Of Skulls before I read a review of this album in the NME, but just one listen to opening track ‘Light Of The Morning’ convinced me that I had to get it. Taking all the best bits from bands such as Dead Weather and The Black Keys, this Southampton based three -piece deliver a scuzzy brand of fuzzed-out blues rock. ‘Light Of The Morning’ has some great riffs, and a dirty, bluesy guitar sound that you seldom hear any more, with most current guitar bands being over-produced to within an inch of their lives. ‘Death By Diamonds And Pearls’ is more of the same, but even better because it is a more structured song, and finds room for a searing guitar solo. ‘I Know What I Am’ marks the first appearance of co-lead vocalist Emma Richardson, and while still keeping the rough edges of previous tracks, they also manage to inject this song with a catchy chorus, and so no surprise that it was an iTunes single of the week. ‘Fires’ is quite different from the preceding songs, with its conventional verse/chorus/verse structure, and guitars only pulled out for the chorus, but it is nonetheless an interesting diversion. ‘Honest’ is an acoustic ballad beautifully sung by Emma, and the riffs return in force for ‘Patterns’, while ‘Hollywood Bowl’ is another more commercial track – almost Beatles-y in parts – but still managing to retain the raw elements present in the rest of the album. ‘Bomb’ is a riff-heavy piece, with some great grungy guitar and an insistent rhythm, all powering towards a spacey guitar solo before the riffs return to finish the song. ‘Impossible’ is another fine example of how to write a catchy song but keep it imbued with the indie spirit, and ‘Blood’ is one of their best all out rockers, with some scorching guitar-work on the solo. ‘Dull Gold Heart’ brings the pace down for another of Emma’s slow ballads, but it still manages to fit in some grungy guitar. ‘Cold Frame’ closes the album with another slowie, this time sung by Russell Marsden with Emma helping out on the chorus, and it really is a great way to end things – melodic, tuneful, and emotional – and proof that the band are not just White Stripes wanabees but can also produce songs of real substance. A great debut, and a band to watch out for in the future.


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