Top positive review
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Back to Black
on 20 April 2014
When The Afghan Whigs disbanded around the turn of the millenium, I thought it was perhaps for the best. Having developed their sound from the churning soul tinged vitriol of Up In It and Congregation, through the wounded Gentleman, reaching their peak with Black Love. An album that has a permanent place in my top 10 for it's soulful, violent Bukowski prose and swooning musical peaks and troughs. 1965 was a bit of a step back from the brink, a good album but it had an impossible act to follow, after you produce your masterpiece what else can artists do but disappoint?
Take a 15 year break and make another masterpiece. I've enjoyed the Twilight Singers and The Gutter Twins but Greg Dulli seems to be at his best when with the Whigs. Parked Outside is the track that ushers us in to this new collection, punchily it establishes the themes of the album: sex, religion, suffering...it's smokey miasma, muggy production, evoking both Congregation and Black Love. It's followed by Matamoros, one of the few times when you can point at the musical influence of the intermediary years, electro arpeggios, fleshed out with muscular, spiky guitars. Everything on this album makes me happy...the driving drums, the gospel, the arabic scales that haven't been heard on a Whigs album for so long, the parts where Dulli sounds like Prince, the bass sound. The vitriol that didn't seem to be there at the end of their original run.
I didn't know what to make of Algiers, elegant falcetto driven lead single or Can Rova, seemingly underproduced violent second single but in context of their places on the album, these songs represent dark peaks of a record that sits alongside Black Love as something of it's equal.This album is a true collection of it's component parts, like the best work the band has previously produced, it doesn't stoop to the listener or seek your approval, anyone criticising Dulli's voice perhaps hasn't heard enough of his previous work, it's as good as ever and this album couldn't come higher recommended to any fan of the Whigs or anyone seeking catharsis.