Any name recognition that the English trio Band of Skulls has in the United States likely came last year when one of their songs was selected for the most recent Twilight movie soundtrack. Since I continue to ignore all things Twilight-related, I arrived late to discover this great rock and roll band. Instead, it was a 30 second sound bite for the new Ford Mustang commercial that piqued my interest and led me to Band of Skulls. Although the band name implies dark, gothic death metal, the likes of which only 15 year old misfits would enjoy, they actually have a classic guitar sound that ranges in genre from garage to blues rock, with nice variations in tempo throughout their debut album, Baby Darling Dollface Honey.
Band of Skulls is made up of Russell Marsden (guitar and vocals), Emma Richardson (bass and vocals), and Matt Hayward (drums). Marsden and Richardson share vocal responsibilities, both convincingly delivering hard-edged vocals on the faster songs and creating lush harmonies on the more tranquil songs. From start to finish, listeners will hear a mix of classic blues rock (Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Rolling Stones) and contemporary garage rock (White Stripes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs) influences; songs range from drum and bass-heavy guitar riff tunes to sweet acoustic ballads. The vocal blend of male and female add rich depth, and even an eerie quality, to each song. Marsden and Richardson trade verses on the stompy “I Know What I Am” and meld harmonies tightly in “Fires.” “Honest” is a beautiful song that resembles some of Led Zeppelin’s delicate tunes, like “The Battle of Evermore.”
Band of Skulls are not stylistically reinventing the wheel, nor are their songs lyrically profound. Many of the lines are catchy but repetitive, and their sound is fairly derivative of the bands I mentioned earlier. But their arrangements, though familiar, still sound fresh and interesting, and the bottom line is that they are fun to listen to. Check out their website to hear a few of their songs. They just may become your next favorite band to pop in the car stereo, roll down the windows, crank up the volume, and drive a little bit faster than you should.