Ever so smooth, Greg Dulli's voice slinks around piano chords like vintage Marvin Gaye on the darkest of evenings. Once again, Dulli has created a masterpiece, nodding favorably to the rhythm and blues soul that continues to influence his music. This time around the music is mellower, though the emotions expressed mimic those of previous Whigs' albums. Nothing has changed lyrically: Dulli is the bastard in bed, watching the nameless girls crawl out of his room before dawn, watching the dirty videos he presumably filmed himself. He plays scapegoat, stalker, and victim and plays them all well. Plays us well. And in the end, a lustful lick on the cheek meets a deserving kick in the groin.
Holding out his hand, Dulli takes us to places existing in the small window of twilight, under the silver stars and moons on the album's cover, where hearts are broken in a jaded romanticism familiar to Whigs' fans. The emotions are powerful and far-reaching. Yet Dulli makes it work because when he speaks we believe him. Or at least we try. Hanging on every word, the brutal, jagged honesty oozes from his mouth in neatly written verse. Undoubtedly, this is the soundtrack to the night, as it complements those hours precisely.
Backed by New Orleans session players, and calling themselves the Twilight Singers, Dulli incorporates drum machines, ambient grooves, and subtle piano into the mix. Consequently, he eases off the trademark guitar riffs, which came to define the Whigs in the decade past. The swank is still apparent, however, possibly even more so, creeping through horn arrangements, lush melodies, and Dulli's swelling wails and whispers. Those expecting the hard-edged riffs of "Gentlemen" and "1965" will be disappointed, as this record is an experiment, mixed by Fila Brazillia, and meant to stray slightly from the posturing self-assurance of the Afghan Whigs. Each song is itself artful testament, weaving through the tapestry of modern relationships. We arrive at the final track, immersed completely in Dulli's purgatory. Lost in the dark. Yet arriving here at track 12 we are reassured by the singer that this twilight may indeed hold promise. Dulli says so. And we believe him. Just like all the other girls.