The Dead Weather: Sea of Cowards
Rock auteurs go for the jugular
Alison Mosshart, Jack White, Dean Fertita and Jack Lawrence—of the Kills, the White Stripes, Queens of the Stone Age, and the Raconteurs, respectively—have something in common beyond a love of vintage rock and pluralized band names: They all approach music with equal measures of recklessness and craft. Their sophomore album (following up last year’s Horehound) cranks the mojo up to 11, splitting time between inferno-grade blues-rock and grooves so swampy they practically emit wavy stink lines. Guitars go terse, then molten, while Fertita bends space with his tough, spacey organ vamps; White sings lead vocals on “Blue Blood Blues,” a Zeppelin stomper decorated with tart vocal “oohs,” but Mosshart is the main draw, shape-shifting through punk tantrums, choked blues, and stage-caliber bits of dramatic sing-speak. Every track offers a new vibe—slow-burning funk on “I Can’t Hear You,” chicken-fried psychedelia on “I’m Mad”—but the taut, razored arrangements never relent in delivering high-impact drama.