ALBUM REVIEW: Band Of Skulls “Love Is All You Love”

Band Of Skulls "Love Is All You Love" cover

Band Of Skulls “Love Is All You Love” cover

Band Of Skulls’ (BoS) crackling good LP Love Is All You Love is the sound of a band reinventing itself, the sound of a band who is unafraid to take chances and push their music forward in new directions. BoS, while not forgetting their past, have their sights set firmly on the future. The possibilities seem endless and exciting. In short, after four really very good albums, BoS may have just made the album of their career.

Spurred by the amicable departure of drummer Matt Haywood remaining members Russell Marsden (guitar/vox) and Emma Richardson (bass/vox) approached the songwriting differently. In their own words they wrote them “As a songwriting duo, which is completely different than as songwriting band”.

Whatever the impetus, whether it was writing as a duo, being forced out of their usual work patterns or the addition of producer Richard X (Pet Shop Boys, New Order) the songs are now tighter and more muscular. Song hooks which have always been present (but in the past may have been buried) are now razor sharp, at the forefront and undeniable.

Just seconds into opening track “Carnivorous” you realize this is not entirely the BoS you are familiar with. A throbbing bass line, Arabesque guitar hook and unashamedly electronic sheen…this is your invitation from the Band of Skulls to join them for a new musical enterprise. When the songs’ chorus drops with its ridiculously catchy panning delay on the word “Carnivorous ….ivorous… ivorous” I’m guessing you may well be all in on the new direction BoS is headed.

“Cool Your Battles” the advance track from the album is of all things a protest song cleverly disguised as a hit single. And the times being what they are a little protest never hurt anything. The band calls this an “Anti- war cry for our turbulent times” and the message is loud and clear. But it’s wrapped up in a shimmering bow of a chorus that does what all really good subversive songs do by getting you to chant along while it plants its message between your ears.

“Sound Of You” is a downright sexy torch song for the 21st century. Putting Richardson’s soulful pleading vocal front and center over a pumping bass line and Marsden’s R&B guitar licks on acid. This is an album highlight to be sure.

As is “We’re Alive” a thundering Glam rocking piece of cotton candy that might well have put a smile on Marc Bolan’s face, its chorus virtually commanding you (“Come On… Come On”) to sing along. This is pop music as it should be, as it could be if more artists were willing to test their limits. Music that is catchy enough to sing along to yet complex enough to make you want to listen to it again and again.

And don’t you just love it when a band you admire surprises you? That is exactly what BoS have done with their newest album. Challenge accepted.

Available Apr. 12 via So Recordings.

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