There is a lot of rock and roll history flailing about The Band of Skulls' recent new album, Baby Darling Doll Face Honey (Shangri-La). So much so that any foray inside its' trenches will reveal an album that unravels layer by layer. As it plays through, expect to find several generations of music; most notably 70s blues-folk, '90s garage rock, and a more modern style of acoustic-pop.
Consisting of Russell Marsden, Emma Richardson, and Matthew Haywar, the UK trio first met in college where they quickly fell for the unlimited range two vocalists and three songwriters creates. On this impressive debut, expect to hear it. Trading lines on the upbeat romp "I Know What I Am", Marsden and Richardson hit their mark in a vocal game of war. Taking the song to battle, the two lace empathetic vocals with piercing guitar leads. Does one come out the winner? Hard to tell. But peace is ultimately found when the two join forces on the song's chorus.
It's a vocal energy that takes free run of Baby Darling Doll Face Honey. Demonstrating incredibly skill and talent with both her voice and the emotions it brings with it, Richardson takes control of "Patterns". Such feel also helps contribute to the awfully live quality of this record. We'll forgive you if you feel like you've lost complete control of your body as it cycles through.
The band also demonstrates their talent by jumping between raw and choppy tracks and more dreamy, acoustic ones. Take "Honest", for example. Listening to it on repeat does not begin to do it justice. Taking listeners on a journey, Richardson's voice is both beautiful and soothing, and when joined by Marsden ushers listeners away from the world around them and deep inside the music.
Unfortunately all good albums eventually come to a close, and in this case its' with the elegant ballad "Cold Fame. Here Marsden hits a serene stride, somewhat resembling Kings of Leon's softer side. With dreamy melody and melancholy lyrics ("I know my place/But it don't know me"), the tune touches on the deep emotion of despair. A heartbreaking way to close this set, for sure.
All and all, The Band of Skulls debut is an alluring listen. Looking at this one track by track, there is plenty of differentiating qualities. But when viewed as a whole, the album is an extremely cohesive body of work. Not only that, the band demonstrates the kind of talent that is rare, yet relatable to fans of rock, folk, and pop. The history of popular music might very well lie within this promising band from England. But its' the future they ought to be concerned about...because it's going to be a bright one. - Lonnie Nemiroff