As a Swedish-English duo who met in East London and have now relocated to Brooklyn via an unsuccessful spell in L.A., it’s no wonder that Alberta Cross sound a little like a lot of things. The Southern-rock twang of their 2009 debut Broken Side Of Time has been side-lined here, and there’s a craning toward big, booming stadium epics of the kind once routinely delivered by Oasis (with whom they toured) or Kings Of Leon. Yet they’re also adept at the more soulful strain of non-boring boogie mastered by Tom Petty, so the album avoids plodding and achieves plaintive liftoff.
Petter Ericson Stakee, who says that between the two albums he hit “rock bottom” in L.A., sings with sandpapery desire in his voice, elevating rote numbers (influenced by the Gallaghers’ songbook) to something more affecting. Although Songs Of Patience involved a glut of producers and (post-L.A.) had to be re-addressed inNew York, it hangs together dramatically, from the opening percussion-led drive of “Magnolia” to the stripped-down, intimate “Bonfires,” which boasts a dash of Neil Young. “Crate of Gold” crunches in on fuzzy, serrated guitar riffs and makes a belligerent, bruised blues motif of the Occupy movement, while the more leisurely “Lay Down” — again sounding oddly Mancunian — surges toward its sing-along chorus of self-betterment.
“Wasteland” is perhaps the best track, a well-crafted anthem blending falsetto and dynamics to tether the clichÃ©s and unleash genuine passion. In taking their time on the “difficult” second album, Alberta Cross has honed a new, subtly Anglicised direction.