The Student Playlist

Showcasing the Best New Music, Curating the Classics

REVIEW: Band Of Skulls – ‘By Default’ (BMG)

band_of_skulls_by_defaultby Ollie Rankine

Earlier this year, Band Of Skulls fans were left in state of eager anticipation after guitar and vocalist, Russell Marsden labelled their upcoming fourth record, By Default “a new era”, having spent the best part of decade dwelling in the hinterlands of British rock. Choosing the unusual setting of a central Baptist church to facilitate the Southampton trio’s busy rehearsal schedule, the forecast for By Default appeared to be bright. However, much like The Stone Roses’ decision to release new music, there were bound to be some left disappointed.

Try to picture a cringe-worthy depiction of monotonous ‘lad rock’ demonstrated by some leaden Black Keys impersonation act and you’ll be pretty close to the tone heard on By Default. Apart from the occasional contagious guitar part such as the math-rock inspired riff on ‘So Good’, Band Of Skulls’ efforts to become the voice of modern British blues rock remain misguided, due to a lack of lyrical depth and a total absence of original songwriting, which are sacrificed to push the ‘authentic’ tag.

It’s as if the entire record has been crammed with as many laborious clichés as humanly possible, with the lyrics that actually make any noticeable sense illustrating either the pursuit of girls or boasting, in bawdy lead single ‘Killer’ for example, that he’s the “leader of the pack” with “my army we’re on the maximum attack” in some god-awful depiction of 21st century lad culture. The only positive to emerge is that, although By Default may fundamentally be a bad album, full of lowest common denominator, faux-authentic blues rock that’s already been written a thousand times before, Band Of Skulls will have undoubtedly caught the attention of a new target audience – even if it is the Fred Perry brigade that still views synthesisers with suspicion. (3/10)

Listen to By Default here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!

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