The brooding, sometimes disorienting, psychoactive sex appeal permeating Sea of Cowards makes up for the lack of a single, and the band's ability to make "dangerous" noise assures its place in rock 'n' roll.
The Dead Weather had good ideas on last year's debut, Horehound — an album that should've been a ferocious five-song EP — and here, again, DW successfully fashions a fantasyland in which to exist, where it's cold and dark, where everyone's an ashen grifter wearing black. It's where smoking doesn't kill people — love and guns do. In music as much in mood, it's the sort of blues-damaged escapism that Zep and early Sabbath mined, complete with Orchestra Hall drums and stoned guitar choogles. In 2010, the occult doesn't sell like sex and switchblades.
Alison Mosshart's reverb-rich howl is effective, mostly on "The Difference Between Us," and the sardonic "I'm Mad." The real highlight is "Blue Blood Blues," on which drummer Jack White raps: Check your lips at the door woman/Shake your hips like battleships/Yeah, all the white girls trip/When I sing at Sunday Service." It works; White makes church filthy.
Saturday, July 31, at the Fillmore, 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-961-5451.
Travis R. Wright is culture and arts editor of Metro Times. Write to Travis R. Wright at metrotimes.com.