Band of Skulls

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It takes only seconds of Band of Skulls' fifth album, Love Is All You Love, to realise that they are no longer the band you thought they were. Carnivorous begins with a fanfare of synths, which lead into a pounding, throbbing dancefloor bassline, an Arabesque lead guitar figure, and electronic percussion patterns - yet underneath it all there's still a blisteringly powerful rock'n'roll band. "Carnivorous opened the window for the thought: What can we do now? What are we capable of?" says bassist and singer Emma Richardson. "It was the first step towards taking a risk, and it was an exciting feeling early on that led to the album going down this path."_x000D_
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This path is one in which the best bits of the Band of Skulls who have established themselves as one of Britain's most exciting and successful rock'n'roll bands are meshed with something new. The result is an album that doesn't skimp on the force of overdriven guitars, but combines the sounds of a live band with electronic programming and the pop genius of producer Richard X (M.I.A., Goldfrapp, Sugababes, Pet Shop Boys) to create a record that sounds like a band reborn._x000D_
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That Band of Skulls was going to have to change was inevitable once drummer Matt Hayward told RIchardson and singer/guitarist Russell Marsden he was leaving the group at the end of 2016, once they had finished touring their fourth album, By Default. _x000D_
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In summer 2017 they teamed up with RIchard X for sporadic sessions at Miloco Studios in London, and set about the next phase. "By the end it was more of a collaboration than a traditional artist-producer relationship," Marsden says. "It wasn't forced - it was very natural. And the best ideas won out." The duo then went back to their home studios for a second wave of writing that produced some of the album's standouts - We're Alive, the title track, and Cool Your Battles. _x000D_
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Back in the UK, the band teamed up again with Richard X (who hadn't come to Nashville) where they set about taking the three sets of elements they had accumulated - their home demos, their work at Miloco, and the Nashville band tracking sessions - and combining them into a coherent whole. "It started out as trial and error," Richardson says, "and then it transformed into a fully-fledged idea of combining the live and electronic elements."_x000D_
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So songs such as Cool Your Battles, Love Is All You Love and We're Alive are more about finding unity and shared humanity than howling into the existential void. "We're focussing on the positive," Richardson says. "There's so much, and people don't often focus on the positive. I think that's to our detriment sometimes. Music, as well as making you think, should entertain and uplift, as well as making a statement. It's supposed to make you feel something, and if you can make someone feel better about interacting with other people, that's a good thing."_x000D_
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Love Is All You Love charts bold new ground for Band of Skulls: a tough rock'n'roll record with gleaming pop hooks; an album where melancholy and euphoria combine in equal measure. It's an album that points a way forward, something the band themselves recognise. _x000D_
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For now, though, Love Is All You Love is something to, well, love.