Alabama Shakes return with a sophomore album that amps up the dissonance. On their first album, Boys & Girls, the band drew an audience with a new take on Southern blues music. Here they bring more rock-and-roll elements, stronger bass lines, and less of the melodic guitar. The vocals continue to be shaped by Brittany Howard’s distinctive voice guiding the melodies.
The theme of the album is moving beyond what is, toward what can be. The song “Future People” summons listeners to reject nostalgia and to imagine a more hopeful future: “Some want to see/Those who've gone above/Friends that they lost/People they love/I’d rather meet/Freedom than roam.” On “Don’t Wanna Fight,” Howard sings, “Why can't we both be right?/Attacking, defending/Until there's nothing left worth winning.”
Or consider “Gimme All Your Love,” in which she pleads, “Why don't you talk to me for just a little while?/I can only try to make it right/If you just gimme all your love.” The lyrics seem to be a dialogue between an optimist and a pessimist; the singer wants to stop arguing and to find healing through love and understanding.