BAND OF SKULLS
‘Himalayan’ (Electric Blues Recordings)
Three albums in, and Southampton’s Band Of Skulls have leapt into a time machine to hijack the mid-seventies with a bazooka-load of power chords and evocative melodies that seek to stir up the dancefloor fracas of that era. Situating themselves inside the paradox that exploded in the transition from rock to pop – the sonic copulation that gave birth to the 1980s – Band Of Skulls create a vivid, voracious melange of pop-rock nostalgia that is so unapologetic it borders on parody. That’s not to say grandiose-titled Himalayan doesn’t scale the heights it clearly aimed for – this is a colossal sound that will be dangerous to vertigo sufferers.
Opening with Led Zep-meets-Shawaddywaddy concoction Asleep At The Wheel is as ambiguous a start as you’re going to get, the lines “Where we are going is anyone’s guess” helpfully setting you up for what’s to come. Preceding single Nightmares is a lucid figment that morphs early Simple Minds with BRMC; I Feel Like Ten Men sounds like Muse hitchhiking on Route 66, while album highlight I Guess I Know You Fairly Well helpfully exposes the narrow gap betwixt Bon Jovi and Arctic Monkeys.
Having toured with a clutch of stadium monsters (Muse, QOTSA), you can sense in this latest offeringBand Of Skulls now have a grander ambition, and are no longer content to be mere sherpas – the formidable rockface that is Toreador demonstrating vertiginous scope while it blasts you with riff-laden rockfalls.
With Himalayan, Band Of Skulls have climbed with admirable conviction and may just have reached a significant summit.
* Full album review will be published in the April edition of Brumnotes magazine