Album Review: The Dead Weather – Sea Of Cowards

If Marla Singer from the movie Fight Club started a band, it would sound like The Dead Weather. They’re dark, edgy and angry and with their second album they’ve perfected their particular brand of radio-unfriendly blues / tripped-out reggae / 70s rock and infused it with enough wailing feedback, weird synth effects and creepy organs to bring the last acid trip you had flashing back hard and fast.



Their previous effort, 2009’s Horehound did very little to impress. Musically, it sounded like everyone on the album was pulling in different directions, a common short-coming suffered by supergroups. The songs were loose and rushed and whatever inroads they made with regard to originality and style were overshadowed completely by singer Alison Mosshart’s toneless wailing and the disjointed, hookless attempts at songwriting that defined a lot of tracks on the album.

The biggest draw-card that Horehound had was the fact that Jack White (of The White Stripes and The Raconteurs) was in the band, but even that didn’t impress too much. ‘Oh, another Jack White side-project? Meh’ seemed to be the general consensus.

Fast forward to ten months later and The Dead Weather’s second album is already on shelves and who knows what the hell happened in those ten months but the band has come back tighter, meaner and better than ever.

Interestingly, in a recent interview, Jack White explained that the title Sea Of Cowards is a direct reference to the hordes of anonymous trolls on the internet that ‘spit venom and attack people in a cowardly way using fake names.’ Dorky? Yeah, a little, but trust me, the album is anything but.



This time around, Mosshart has found a happy medium between the aforementioned ‘toneless wailing’ and the throaty whispering that she’s prone to and I was pleasantly surprised to find that on Sea Of Cowards I didn’t feel like my ear drums were being scraped with industrial-grade sandpaper every time she belted a chorous out.

Although to be fair, Jack White does sing a lot more on Sea Of Cowards than he did on Horehound, which is definitely what the latter album was sorely lacking. The man has also upped his game considerably in terms of loading the tracks on Sea Of Cowards full of sick, bluesy, distorted guitar riffs and hooks that bite hard and don’t let go.

The first single, “Die By The Drop” is definitely not the finest example of what this album has to offer, the chorous is a mess, but the vocal dynamic between Mosshart and White during the verse works well and the lyrics “Let’s dig a hole in the sand brother / A little grave we can fill together… Some people die just a little / Sometimes you die by the drop / Some people die in the middle / I live just fine at the top” are catchy as TB and guaranteed to get your inner air drummer jamming.

The best track on the album is the instantly likeable “The Difference Between Us”. If you’re thinking of buying this album, listen to this track and if it doesn’t grab you, steer clear of Sea Of Cowards and go check out the new Michael Buble album, I hear it’s a huge hit with mindless drones the world over.



“The Difference Between Us” rises like a dark phoenix from a distorted guitar / synth melody that is perfectly accentuated by either White or Jack Lawrence, both of whom are credited as drummers on the album.

Fucking superbands. Swapping instruments like wives at a swinger’s party. You gotta love that shit.

“No Horse” moves with the sexy confidence of a gunslinger in a fist fight and has a bassline that will make you grin from ear to ear it’s so badass, not to mention the grungey, wailing guitar riffs that White bends and grinds out like a maniac.

The last track on the album, “Old Mary” will confirm any suspicions that this band is seriously twisted. The quiet, church-organ chords that haunt this track make a fitting backdrop to White’s lyrics, which are a twisted bastardisation of the Hail Mary: “Old Mary full of grease / Your heart stops within you / Scary are the fruits of your tomb / And harsh are the terms of your sentence…”



It’s an album that feels like it died in the Old West (thanks to the awesome melodies ex-Queens Of The Stone Age guitarist, organist, pianist and bassist Dean Fertita brings to the mix) and was revived sometime in the 70s in a drug-fuelled séance. It’s sexy, it’s deadly and it’s hell-bent on breaking all the rules.

The Dead Weather have done a fine job of carving out a sound that is unlike any band you’ve ever heard, and with Sea Of Cowards they’ve fine-tuned that sound into a far more listenable and coherent whole and proved without a doubt that they aren’t here to fuck around.

Try this album on for size, see where it takes you and who knows, when you get there, you might just thank me 😉

Final Verdict: 8/10


4 Responses to “Album Review: The Dead Weather – Sea Of Cowards”

  1. 1 James T
    June 2, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Nice review – but disagree massively with your critisism of their first album. I guess the reasons you dislike it are the reasons I like it. But it’s all objective anyway, so who cares.

    Saw them live in London last year – they swap instuments quite a lot on stage too, which really adds to the performance. Going to see them again this month at the legendary Round House.


    • June 3, 2010 at 10:36 pm

      Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s take a minute here and just read Mr T’s crit on my review and take some notes while we’re at it.

      Specifically, the line ‘I guess the reasons you dislike it are the reasons I like it. But it’s all objective anyway, so who cares.’

      That, to my twisted ears, is poetry. A man who is willing to let bygones be. Yeah, we don’t agree, but that’s the beauty of being a fucking human being, a unique and individual snowflake.

      Jealous you got to see them live dude. So badass.


  2. 3 James T
    June 29, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    check the gig from last night – it was ridiculously good:

    The set list was split about 60/40, in favour of the older album.
    But it’s all amazing to me.

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