I think most of us indie folk are familiar with the Jack White name. He’s emotional, he’s crazy, but at least he can put on a show. And when he is surrounded by his extremely talented musical allies, he’s actually kind of great.
Sea of Cowards is a very intense, but somehow naturally progressive next step for a still-fairly-new band. It was only last year that Horehound, their debut, slipped into the scene via White’s “temporary” Third Man Records store. And it’s an unusually positive sign to see this much productivity from what one might call a sort of “supergroup.”
But these tunes are much more enjoyable, overall, compared to the Horehound material. First of all, musical collaboration is noticeably more cohesive and free-flowing, and the compositions are blatantly bolder and much grittier.
Alison Mosshart, the “official” vocalist for the group, is a raging werewolf, and she ferociously owns anything that she touches. She scowls and howls through the fiery “Gasoline,” and seduces like a minx in the wake of the canon-like percussion in “Jawbreaker.”
And, as usual, White makes his “cameo” vocal appearance in several very sporadic and “unique” moments throughout the fairly brief record. “Blue Blood Blues” is his bitter, blaring anthem of anguish, whilst “Old Mary” reveals a dark narrator in White that is both believable and bizarre. Members Jack Lawrence (bass) and Dean Fertita (guitar) match White’s weirdness with their dirty, diabolical duties and gravel-coat the compositions with their ambitious attitudes.
In conclusion, if you can take an earful of fuzz and fire, Sea of Cowards is your game.