Blues rock is very much like trench warfare – once you’ve dug yourself in, it’s virtually impossible to progress. So kudos to Southampton’s Band Of Skulls, erstwhile purveyors of mountain range blues epics and granite-guitar funk-outs, whose fourth album finds them bounding out of their furrow on kangaroo stilts of fresh ideas.
They’ve grown a rock-wide reach. Back Of Beyond rewrites Iggy’s Real Wild Child (Wild One) and T.Rex’s I Love To Boogie into a Kentucky biker bar crawl, all Elvis hip-quakes, sex-snake snarls and lyrics that’ll even have Jim Steinman wondering if Jim Steinman wrote them: ‘I’ve seen the good go bad, I’ve seen the right go wrong, from the middle of the city to the back of beyond.’
Tropical Disease is a cinematic rhumba evoking 60s detective themes, about catching a dose of emotional ebola from some mosquito of a lover and squitting your heart out of your red-raw jacksie. There’s diplodocus disco (So Good, Bodies), malign, spoken-word nu blues (Singing), Depeche Mode synth noir (Embers) and even a walloping great glam tune built on scat jazz rhythms (This Is My Fix). Cockily adventurous, By Default is a plasma grenade lobbed out of the blues rock trenches.