The Dead Weather
Sea of Cowards
Third Man Records
By Chris Homer
The Dead Weather pick-up where they left off on last year’s debut, Horehound, on their latest album, Sea of Cowards. The album doesn’t stray far from the heavy, distortion soaked, blues-rock Jack White’s super-group established on their debut.
Of course, this shouldn’t detract anyone who enjoyed Horehound. Tracks like “I’m Mad” and opener “Blue Blood Blues” rely heavily on the fuzzy, swamp-rock guitar riffs played by Dean Fertita. These songs bring to mind the hard-driving numbers on Horehound like “Hang You From the Heavens” and “Treat Me Like Your Mother.”
At other points on Sea of Cowards, The Dead Weather use a slowly building, simmering blues sound. “Hustle & Cuss” and “I Can’t Hear You” will remind you of some of Horehound’s down tempo songs like “60 Feet Tall” and “New Pony.” “I Can’t Hear You” is especially entertaining thanks to its duel lead guitar riffs and White’s solid drumming.
The biggest change on Sea of Cowards is Jack White’s increasing role as a second vocalist to front woman Allison Mosshart. While White left most of the vocal duties on Horehound to Mosshart, save for “I Cut Like a Buffalo,” Sea of Cowards often finds the two trading off vocal lines and singing backup for each other.
“Die By The Drop”, the album’s first single, features this interplay between Mosshart and White. The song’s chorus leaves little doubt that The Dead Weather should have been doing this all along. Mosshart’s surly growls work perfectly with White’s high-pitched yelps. Instrumentally, the song uses one of the album’s best fuzzed-out guitar riffs along with rhythms pounded out on keys and drums, making it one of The Dead Weather’s strongest efforts to date.
While White’s role as a vocalist has expanded, Mosshart still has plenty of chances to showcase her unique voice. “Gasoline” stands out as Mosshart’s best vocal performance as she bounces her voice around manically. The track’s shrill organ melodies and huge guitar solo also help make it one of the best on Sea of Cowards.
“The Difference Between Us” also shows Mosshart’s strength as a vocalist, particularly during the chorus. The song’s use of a dark keyboard melody also lend it an electro-feel that works surprisingly well with The Dead Weather’s blues-rock sound.
Overall, Sea of Cowards finds The Dead Weather continuing to succeed with their dirty, swamp-rock sound. Jack White’s additional vocals also add another level of excitement to the songs, making it an even better effort than the excellent Horehound.