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Little brother to '06's glorious "Powder Burns",
This review is from: The Twilight Singers Play Blackberry Belle (Audio CD)
Having heard "Powder Burns" first, this one takes a little longer to get to grips with; understandable when you consider it was released three years before. It's poorly mixed at points (though even then, the dusky melody of the opening 'Martin Eden' sinks in and stays there) and perhaps a little poorly paced compared to its successor. But never mind. The Singers are my favourite new band, and this album is still a sizzling treat piled high with sour sleaze-rock, pitch-black late-night confessions and beautifully textured jazz/soul undertones.
I guess the standout is the admittedly stupidly-titled 'Teenage Wristband', which laces an almost house music-esque piano flourish with driving cinematic rock, exploding into a chorus like watching the morning sun rise - wearily euphoric. The following 'St Gregory' (self-mythologisingly named a la Julian Cope's 'St Julian'???) takes a dive into almost total stillness, shimmering like late evening heat in the bayou. "My God," Dulli breathes, regarding what's become of an old friend, "you look like a ghost." Some of the other stuff allows unexpected influences like trip-hop (on 'Decatur St.') and glinting, rolling banjo loops ('Papillon') to melt into the gumbo...mmmmmmm.
It all winds its way inexorably to the closing, sensational 'Number Nine', where Greg is joined by perhaps the only man on earth who makes him look like an over-eager schoolboy by comparison, the redoubtable Mark Lanegan, and together they enact a deal with the Devil gone wrong (it's lyrically ambigious which of them is portraying Old Scratch; perhaps both, or neither, but my money's on Greg). Having said all that, the tune is marred a little by the outro, which has some awful screamy woman 'emoting' like Mariah bloody Carey.
Like all good records, this one is also a musical equivalent to its cover art, in this case blurred palm trees on a turbulent afternoon, perhaps in hurricane season, as viewed from behind hotel blinds. It all adds up to a hypnotic, cinematic and haunting listening experience.