Rushed to release in typical Jack White style, the second coming from his other other band has crash-landed with barely enough time for the media hype machine to start it’s cogs turning, which can only be a good thing. Also in typical Jack White style, in a time where every band is trying to surprise with each new album, Sea of Cowards is pretty unsurprising. It’s more of the same, but much, much better.
While Horehound was far from bad, it had a habit of losing itself in a haze of muddled ideas and scuzzed out guitars. From the opening notes of the swaggering riff of the killer opening track ‘Blue Blood Blues’ it is clear that if their debut was a drunken brawl, Sea of Cowards is a clinical and brutal attack going straight for your vitals.
Building on the principles laid down with Horehound; Fertita’s guitar and Lawrence’s bass are more considered yet just as effortlessly awesome. Mosshart meanwhile is more deliciously menacing than ever, her sexually-charged voice alone enough to send thousands of male skinny jeans-wearing listeners running sheepishly for the nearest bathroom, while Jack White proves that Meg, with all due respect, isn’t even the best drummer in The White Stripes.
The aura of insanity is also back with a vengeance, and from Jack preaching such demented-genius lines as “shake your hips like battleships” like a madman, to Mosshart’s consistent psychotic freak-out, particularly potent on album highlight ‘I’m Mad’, it’s all delivered with a tangible conviction and kept afloat on the layers of heavy as hell guitar/bass double attack.
Acting as an excellent counterbalance, the record’s more chilled (yet still murderously visceral) moments come in the form of the reggae-tinged blues flirted with on Horehound, cultivated and refined on tracks like ‘Hustle and Cuss’ to be worthy to stand up next to angrier tracks, such as lead single ‘Die By The Drop’.
By improving on every flaw of it’s predecessor, Jack White might just have made one of his best albums yet with Sea of Cowards. As he beats the hell out of his drum kit, and screams along in each disturbingly beautiful duet with Mosshart, it is almost too easy to forget that White even has another band. Meg White be afraid.
Sea Of Cowards is out now on Warner. You can view the video for ‘I Can’t Hear You’ below, taken from the new album.