The sun retreats behind ominous clouds that seemed to appear from nowhere. A peer from your window reveals a jilted sky, suddenly sickly and burgeoning with upheaval. Creatures big and small head for cover in a desperate attempt to make way as something wicked this way comes. You press play on the stereo and unwittingly unleash a cyclone of sounds that shatters tweeters and splinters speaker boxes. Warning sirens scream with a shrillness that sends shards of glass flying across your room, crashing and cutting everything in their path. You feel the pained bellow of bass as the wall joists slowly bend and snap under the intense pressure of the storm. As you dodge the madness from beneath your overturned couch, you realize the noise and chaos is unlike any undeserved torrent of Mother Nature. The charged smell of ozone, the wafts of pine smoke singeing your nostrils, and the deafening ringing in your ears were all created intentionally, courtesy of The Dead Weather.
Sea of Cowards picks you up where 2009’s Horehound left you, curled up in the fetal position in the corner of your bedroom with your eyes closed clutching your teddy bear. An inexplicably potent formation, Jack White, Jack Lawrence, Dean Fertita, and Allison Mosshart manifest an inspired precipitation of blood, angst, and perspiration. Each accomplished musician makes contributions with multiple instruments and vocals. Tracks burst with signature elements from each artist. It’s amusing to try and distinguish which lyrics emanate from Mr. White or Ms. Mosshart; they sound eerily similar. The guitar work is unique and expressive enough to stand out in an age of enhanced effects and electronic modification.
This fearsome foursome is once again responsible for a most intriguing and entertaining album. It is as bizarre as it is likeable with gritty guitars, violent drums, and stabbing vocals. Song structures are unpredictable and much like any rare atmospheric phenomenon; you can’t escape the fascination of what you are witnessing. Momentum shifts haphazardly from one style to the next and then pauses only to return with force. I’d try to list my favorite tracks from the album, but I think it is best absorbed in its entirety. While I found the sheer power of the sonic swells to be captivating; they could just as easily send some reaching for the Dramamine. Swim at your own risk. No lifeguard on duty.