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Alabama shakes: Sound & Color

US giants veer from the beaten track for second album.

The bluesy roots-rock of Alabama Shakes’ 2012 debut album Boys & Girls won the band universal acclaim and swiftly made them one of the biggest names in the US. Its follow-up, however, is resolutely disparate, a little strange and, frankly, all the better for it.

Lead-off single Future People suggested something different was afoot from the off, frontwoman Brittany Howard’s beguiling falsetto – not her previous calling card – giving way to a thunderous psych-rock bassline and chaotic chorus. The scorching soul stomper Don’t Wanna Fight draws from Prince and Curtis Mayfield, while the sparse strings and pleading vocals of Guess Who recall the majesty of Marvin Gaye. By the time The Greatest has blindsided you with its Strokes-infused garage tumble you may be disorientated, but only in a good way that will make you want to spin the record again.

Lead-off single Future People suggested something different was afoot from the off, frontwoman Brittany Howard’s beguiling falsetto – not her previous calling card – giving way to a thunderous psych-rock bassline and chaotic chorus. The scorching soul stomper Don’t Wanna Fight draws from Prince and Curtis Mayfield, while the sparse strings and pleading vocals of Guess Who recall the majesty of Marvin Gaye. By the time The Greatest has blindsided you with its Strokes-infused garage tumble you may be disorientated, but only in a good way that will make you want to spin the record again.