When I wrote about the Alabama Shakes debut EP toward the end of last year the big question was would the success of the songs on the EP translate into a successful first album. As I pointed out, there was a heap of praise already on the band and I loved the four songs they had released. So the answer to that question probably depends on how high your expectations were.
To these ears my mother gave me Boys And Girls is the bomb. In interviews the band talked about how the full length would expand on some sounds and possibly surprise some listeners of the EP. Thankfully they didn’t lose the soul influence those first songs had while they were still able branch out and infuse more garage rock hints. (Wow, that sounds really suspect, but oh well) ”Hold On,” “I Found You,” and “You Ain’t Alone” may still be the three best songs on the album, though it’s entirely possible that I’ve just heard them way more than the other songs. But there are still plenty of rad new songs on Boys And Girls, it’s not like they stuck some filler on there and charged you more for it.
It seems stupid and cliché to talk about a soulful band and use words like raw, primal, heartfelt, guttural, emotive, etc but these words work. And even as how Brittney Howard sings is as important as what she sings it’s still important to point out that she can turn a phrase. I’m thinking of the line in “Rise To The Sun” I feel so homesick/where is my home/where I belong/or where I was born.
As much as Ms. Howard receives much of the praise, which she fairly deserves, the band behind her also deserves a tip of the cap. They know when to be restrained and when to just let the shit hit the fan, all while maintaining a smooth swagger and impeccable timing.
Not that this has anything to do with the enjoyment of the album but: ATO has done a really good job of promoting Alabama Shakes and if you follow them on facebook you read all the time about selling out shows, here and overseas. I’ve got a hunch that when next year’s Grammy nominations are announced we’re going to see Alabama Shakes in the best new artist category.
Hey Autopsy IV, this is the point in the blog post where you should tag it as Essential Listening. (AIV NOTE: Very well. Ladies and Gentlemen. This album, it is Essential Listening.)