In my last review on this website, which handled Morrissey, I commended Morrissey’s ABILITY to confuse the listener (by making them think he wrote the songs, among other things) and the penchant of this element to render a sort of listening JOURNEY that’s multifarious, rather than monochromatic. This new Band of Skulls album Love is All You Love is nothing if not fresh and esoteric, not in the least for having been recorded at three different studios, London, the band’s hometown Southampton (translated “South amp town,” since there’s only one “h”) and ‘Murica’s own Nashville. Thass why I waited ‘til around the 4th to review it (no actually I just had no idea this sucker had been out for two months, which is strange since I’m a Band of Skulls fanatic and even had my Dolby Disaster Facebook profile picture as a juvenile handwritten scrawling of “Free Emma Richardson” for a while).
Love is All You Love is a bewildering, astounding rock album, combining the crispness and dangerous emotion of Baby Darling Doll Face Honey with a new sort of classic lightness and cavalier quality, like the band has been smoking weed (or tripping) and waterskiing to ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” for the last couple years. Hey, they are from the South coast. Opener “Carnivorous” is infectious and relentless and owing to drums which I still have no idea were programmed or organic. They were likely a mixture of the two, a further testament to the punctilious production at work on this project. It’s also a distinct possibility that the band, which apparently still consists with official solitude of Russell Marsden and Emma Richardson, are toting a pithy feeling of freedom at their (newfound) lack of hype surrounding their new releases. He**, albums as mediocre as Himalayan and By Default nary hurt with that.
Really I couldn’t believe “Carnivorous,” with its voracious catchiness and gothic, cathedral feel (as well as group tightness), wasn’t one of the singles. As it stands those are “Love is All You Love”; “Cool Your Battles” and “Thanks a Lot,” tracks three, five and eight. How astoundingly, transcendently un-gimmicky. We’re talking a songwriting integrity and ’90s scrappiness on par with Collective Soul, who whadya know also put out an awesome album this Spring. The title track pumps in as the absolute essential here, galloping along with an almost cruel expedition, like folding the emotions of the weak in on themselves. “That’s My Trouble” handles romance with the band’s typical death-defying intensity, but “Not the Kind of Nothing I Know” musters up as a true shock, with this strange, new vocal that sounds like the girl from Aqua (yes, the one that put out “Barbie Girl”), before exploding into this panoramic grunge chorus, the drums weighing in on the cacophonous cymbal in perfect, tandem timing. It’s an absolute clinic in rendering contrast within a song, which again, is “confusing” like a poisonous green and blue snake slithering in the water off the coast of New Zealand which happens to also be the most beautiful animal you’ve ever seen.