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Greg Dulli circa 2006....,
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This review is from: Powder Burns (Audio CD)
Former Afghan Whig leader Greg Dulli follows up his recent covers album 'She Loves You' and the recent companion Greg Dull's 'Amber Lights' with 'Powder Burns', the most outwardly commercial album he's been associated with since the Whigs' shallow party classic '1965' released in 1998.
'Powder Burns' is Dulli's strongest original set since '1965', possibly better - though I find it hard to top the classic Whigs' trio of 'Congregation', 'Gentlemen' and 'Black Love' - though the production is extremely polished and at times close to the Happy Mondays! Dulli has been using more of an electronic studio sound since the dance inflections of the Twilight Singers' debut - this might be to banish the memory of his old band or so he can play all the instruments or the aid of pro-tools...I don't know. But some may find this a bit too polished and commercial - there are definitely songs that could be hits or warrant radio play here. It seems a definite companion to '1965' - though I found that this material live was much better with the great touring band Dulli has at present (or the great sequence on the tour with just Dulli and piano that suggests he could be the new Bruce Springsteen a la 'Thunder Road' on that Live Box Set!). There are guests on here, notably Ani DiFranco, Joseph Arthur & former Whig John Curley.
There are plenty of fine songs here - 'I'm Ready' sounds like the meeting point of the Cure and the Whigs, while the raucous 'Forty Dollars' is another standout and probably what Primal Scream tried to do on their latest album (it also drops in a bit of the Beatles' 'She Loves You'). 'There's Been an Accident' has quite a complex string arrangement and some wonderful piano that evokes the atmosphere of a soundtrack (& sounds a bit like NIN's 'Something I Can Never Have') - the strings feel a little bit Eastern - would be great if Dulli did a whole album in this style, might be a 'Song Cycle' for the zeroes?
'Bonnie Brae' could have been on any of the Whigs' albums, while 'Candy Cane Crawl' has a sound that reminds me of several David Sylvian albums of all things! There is much euphoria here, 'Underneath the Waves' sounds bursting and full of life, while 'My Time Has Come' has a similar drum-beat to the Whigs' 'Going to Town' (i.e. a bit New Order) - dark lusty lyrics ("I would die to taste her blood some more..." Mr Dulli does reside in New Orleans!) and angular guitar that reminds me a bit of Elastica!! The title track is great stuff too, an advance of Dulli's anthemic/melancholic thing and feeling like a sequel to the Whigs' great 'Tonight.'
'Powder Burns' is a fine album, though maybe too slick for those still enamoured with 'Up In It' or 'Gentlemen' - I think Dulli should go the whole hog and make an album that fuses 'Greetings from LA' with 'Pills, Thrills & Bellyaches' next time! I do believe there is a Gutter Hearts album recorded, so Mr Dulli will return with Mark Lanegan with that project in the New Year. Rockin'!!!! A soundtrack to the good times, with an eye on the bad times and proof that the fire is still in 40-something Dulli. Or maybe that's just the Sambuca!!!