English indie rock band The Heavy return with The House That Dirt Built, their second album in two years. Having garnered some attention from their first release on both sides of the Atlantic, this follow-up further justifies their reputation with violent race car derby rock, soul stomps and a myriad of other influences.
This is manly, swaggering music made by a competent-as-hell band. The melody on "Sixteen" borrows directly from "I Put a Spell On You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins and makes it all their own, with a driving, animal force. "Cause for Alarm" diverges furthest from the album's sound, with female choruses, a harmonium and reggae backdrop. But, much like the rest of the album, it just works. After the powerhouse of music preceding it, album closer "Stuck" eases peacefully into a string-driven ballad of relationship blues.
Each song has its own identity, tastefully employing horns and interesting percussion in ways that don't distract from the music itself. Kevin Swaby's high, Prince-like voice croons, barks, serenades and shouts. The House That Dirt Built is the most down-and-dirty sophomore release since the Black Keys' Thickfreakness, and is damn near as good.