The Dead Weather Distill Primal Urges on 'Sea of Cowards'

The Dead Weather

Sea of Cowards (Third Man Records)

With Sea of Cowards, the Dead Weather have distilled something so primal, so deliciously base and atavistically compelling—call it sex or pleasure or id or whatever—that repeat listening places at hazard your very sanity. Or at least your membership in the DAR. Consequently, rhythm reigns over the second record by Jack White's other, other band—dirty, greasy rhythms, the kind that inspire bad thoughts and bad decisions. White and co-vocalist Allison Mosshart bay and coo and yowl and pout, do just about every damn thing but sing, over twisted six-string riffs (tone by Vaseline), come-hither Hammond, and bump 'n' grind beats straight out of some lost Disco Tantric Voodoo school of percussion.

There's a spareness to the arrangements here, but that only seems to add to the seductive power of the songs, which seem of a piece, as if the whole record were one continuous track, and yet are characterized by any number of signature moments: the syncopated call-and-response of "Die by the Drop," for instance, or the quintessential slink of "I Can't Hear You," or the gonzo guitar wailing of "Gasoline." Wicked stuff. And it raises the question: Can the Dead Weather go any lower?