The Dead Weather can be a mesmerizing live act—partly due to its Zeppelin-esque rumbles, but mostly thanks to the slinky moves and sly charisma of principals Alison Mosshart and Jack White. Capturing that concert chemistry on disc isn’t easy, and sure enough, second album Sea of Cowards fails to engage on a consistent basis.
It begins with promise, with the paranoid rock jag “Blue Blood Blues” and the jazz-funk-flecked “Hustle and Cuss.” But soon, the shuddering classic-rock riffing, hefty organs, gnarled stoner-blues touches and distorted vocals become monotonous and tedious. Although vibrant percussion and brisk-boogie tempos push things forward at times, the electronic mindzaps found on the band’s debut LP, Horehound, are minimized—a shame, since the synth-goth “The Difference Between Us” is a highlight.
Cowards isn’t a bad record; it’s just a little boring. Perhaps on record No. 3, The Dead Weather’s songwriting will catch up to its confident attitude.