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Album Review
Sea Of Cowards

Sea Of Cowards
by The Dead Weather

Thirdman Records/Warner

Review Date
12th May 2010
Reviewed by
Soong Phoon

Sea of Cowards sounds like a bar fight. Each song is taut, muscular and scorching. Harnessing the raw intensity of the band - that was evident on Horehound's 'Bone House' - The Dead Weather launch upon a blistering thirty-five minute assault. Jack White has more of a vocal presence on this record, and on 'Blue Blood Blues' he sings 'Shake your lips at the door woman, shake your hips like battleships!' Alison Mosshart's vocals sound more whiskey-soaked and tobacco-weathered than ever - and it has an electrifying effect. Any restraint she has when performing in The Kills is utterly unleashed, and her savage mandate seems to be that listeners 'hustle and cuss' for the record's duration.

While Mosshart and White play tug-of-rope on vocals, Dean Fertita and Jack Lawrence duel on guitar, keyboards and bass. The band transitions seamlessly from the fiery "Difference Between Us' to the syncopated rhythms of 'I'm Mad' where Mosshart howls and cackles "A hundred ways! I'm mad!" The incipient menace of The Dead Weather was apparent on Horehound, but on this sophomore effort the band cavort back and forth from the merely sinister to a raging fury. It's this masterful balancing act between its looming wickedness and sheer violence that makes the album an intriguing and engaging listen. I suspect it is Fertita's searing guitar licks and organ that bring Sea of Cowards its ferocity, but the band plays as such a tightly integrated unit that it's difficult to separate them from the explosive sum of their parts.

The album is a romp through White's usual terrain of bluesy rock'n'roll, but alongside Fertita, Mosshart and Lawrence, the music is more rambunctious, more spontaneous and just a lot more evil. 'Jawbreaker', 'The Difference Between Us' and 'No Horse' are particular highlights, but there isn't a single dud. In comparison, Horehound sounds like an collection of songs hastily assembled from a few jams. Sea of Cowards is a compelling album, fully realised and developed, where The Dead Weather showcase themselves as a real band, not just another 'supergroup'.

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