Chalk up the sexy, physical feistiness of Franz Ferdinand and the mixed-gender bunch Sons and Daughters (who opened for Franz in the States last summer) to boozing 'n' brawling Scottish ways. In fact, brawling feels like a birthright of S&D singer/guitarist Adele Bethel -- at least judging by her voice, which never wavers once from a scorned-woman brogue. Bethel handles most of the singing load on Box, and in the process largely debases the dogged "X-on-haggis" comparisons that plagued Sons and Daughters after their 2003 debut, Love the Cup. Box's music is increasingly sparse, with songs like "Red Receiver" and "Rama Lama" pared down to just vocals, brushed snare and strummed guitar hints (though they inevitably explode out in short/sharp spurts). And while they can sustain the nasty -- "Hunt" speeds along with some rusty slide guitar, and "Royally Used" even cops the Stooges' "1969" -- had S&D mashed the more tuneful tone of their debut with this dark mood, they would have created a masterpiece. But as is, they're kicking against the hillbilly arcana they never imagined they'd dig back when they were drinking to the Fall in high school.
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