Alabama Shakes // Boys & Girls // April 9 // Rough Trade
Stop and think, just how many albums called Boys & Girls or something like that have you heard in your life? Though so. The correct answer is more than enough. They usually are back to the basics, unpretentious, down to earth records dealing with relationships, love and ultimately, heartbreak. Hey, I know that we’re all tired of that concept but hey, ask yourself, how many times have you heard a band that are being called the new Kings Of Leon? Though so.
Alabama shakes are from the southside and they play southern rock. They happen to be one of the rare bands that still pay tribute to where they come from, which is exactly what brought up the comparisons with Kings Of Leon. Comparisons between vocals and the location is just about the only things that Alabama Shakes have got with Kings Of Leon as on the imaginatively titled Boys & Girls they sound more like downbeat drunks at a saloon when compared to the garage rock upstarts that the Kings were at the start of their career. Boys & Girls feels maudlin, downbeat and it flirts with lo-fi throughout the 38 minutes of the LP which feels overly familiar by the time second song comes around. Everything here has been heard before and even though the band are going to be called soulful and whatever, don’t believe the hype. Having a black woman as a singer does not make your music soulful or gospel or whatever. Alabama Shakes might have the sound down, they might be amusing live but on Boys & Girls they don’t sound like their heart is in it.
All this lack of ideas makes a lot of sense when considering how young the band is. Singer Brittany Howard started a band back in high school. Alabama Shakes was nothing serious, Boys & Girls contains songs recorded over an year ago. Good number of the songs have already been released on earlier singles and EPs. This lack of innovation and high school sound is all over the record as the band feel like some guys who won a school talent contest and used the £100 that they’ve won to record some covers of their favourite famous rock’n’roll songs on someone’s 4 tape in a random garage. Their analogue oriented sound goes well with their back to basics bluesy rock. The unpretentious sound is going to appeal to some lightweight types during the summer festival season but in the end, I might as well be listening to the new Best Coast album where every song sounds the same, lyrical content is done to death and innovation is seen as some unnecessary waste of time. This, after all, is a band that is all about having fun right? Shame that they sound like they’re in their 50, trying to rip off everyone that they listened to when they were teenagers. In a way Alabama Shakes are like the American version of Jet, except they’re yet to write Are You Gonna Be My Girl.
There’s not a lot to say about this. Everyone has heard it before in one form or another. It’s just, you know, one of those bands. They got the state name in their band name, their album is called Boys & Girls, NME are massive fans. They’ve got their heart on their sleeve and they play up to every single cliche that is related to southern rock. Welcome to the most uninspired and mediocre band you’re likely to find in 2012.