From all the hiding away Band of Skulls have been doing since the release of their Friends EP in early 2010, it appears that the Southampton trio have perhaps spent too much time grooming their beards than perfecting their beardy blues rock. Naturally an exception to the beard rule, lone-femme Emma Richardson seems to save Sweet Sour single-handedly, charming us with dazzling folk-vocals on tracks such as 'Navigate' – the only point in the album where we get any sense of true work that’s gone on in the past few years.

Sweet Sour’s slightly backward thinking blues-rock isn’t completely uninspiring, in fact the skilful frets of ‘You Aren’t Pretty but You Got it going on’ perfectly carry the gritty rock sound Band of Skulls are known for. It’s not that it’s painful to listen to, not in the slightest. The only pain lies with the lingering fear of closing your eyes and waking up back in 2009, or even back in Jack White’s early days. This is in fact far from a bad thing, nonetheless the progression the band seem to have made is glacially paced. We like that dark Dead Weather style sound that you’ve got going on but its shamefully lacking a fresh twist.

They’re successfully providing what (I suppose) we ‘want’, but Sweet Sour as an album isn’t what we need, we could have just listened to debut album Baby Darling Doll Face Honey and got enjoyment from its punch at the time. With Sweet Sour we know what to expect, there isn’t the excitement a new release should have – especially from a band that haven’t been constantly appearing on our musical radar recently.

Perhaps Band of Skulls were hoping for a storming return of sweaty rockers, intending to ride into our ears on the backs of releases from bands such as The Black Keys. It’s not to say that Band of Skulls wouldn’t have had the ability to go it alone, if perhaps the past few years had been spent more on grooming (the music, not the facial hair), perfecting that gnarly and gritty sound they gave us back in ’09.

With the album even including a generic mid-point tempo drop in the form of moping ‘Lay My Head Down’ (title screaming with unexciting foreseeable boredom), Band of Skulls really have failed to squeeze a possible inch of originality into the format of their album. Ultimately, Sweet Sour isn’t total rubbish, Band of Skulls are still giving us Southampton’s answer to American blues-rock, but it just lacks imagination. Sit listening and the album’s duration will pass comfortably. No real highlights and nothing to offend or shock you, Sweet Sour does deliver what you want, an enjoyable if grossly unoriginal second album.