Review Summary: Have you ever wondered what would happen if your dad’s Led Zeppelin and your mum’s Aretha Franklin records had a love child? No? Well, Alabama Shakes did.
The debut from the Alabaman quartet, Boys and Girls, somehow fuses four or five genres together so seamlessly that you start to question how you never saw the possibility of this working before. The understated drums represent the angry rock undercurrent for the other instruments to layer soulful, yet at times raw, parts on top. While the delicate guitar and bass grooves are complex and could easily trip over each other, here they don’t. Instead, you’re left feeling as though you’re listening to an album made by punks in board shorts and flowery dresses.
It’s the staggering vocals of Brittany Howard that are the albums crowning glory. On tracks such as ‘You Ain’t Alone’, she soothes your soul one minute only to tear it to pieces the next. Imagine Joss Stone, raised in the sticks, hooked up to a JD drip and channelling the ghost of Janis Joplin. Most songs stand alone as a solid example of the bands unique style, except 'Goin' to the Party', an interlude-esque blip that does nothing and says less. You’ve got ‘Heartbreaker’, a waltz from the gutter, as well as the explosive ‘You Ain’t Alone’. The albums only set back is that while all of these tracks are great on their own, when listened to as a collective, however, they do begin to blend into one another.
The endearing thing about this band is that you sense that they will probably grow old together, still making music under a train track somewhere, still proving to whoever may be listening that summery dad-rock can not only work, it can be some of the most interesting music you hear this year.