on 28 November 2001
The Whigs' breathtaking breakthrough third album. This is the first offering in their sin and substance trilogy of records (the even starker Gentlemen and vengeful rage of Black Love make up the trio) and it is remarkably beautiful! The songs are all concerned to an extent with the (un)social-realism of human relationships; lust, love and of course loss.
Greg Dulli knows how to write a song, by making a yin and yang between subtle verse and anthemic chorus. The perfect blending of honky-tonk piano, slide guitars and smoky yet sweet vocals turns themselves ferociously over come the chorus. The Sub Pop classic "Turn on the Water" is a extraordinary example of that soulful crescendo of distortion, volume and crash. The power and weight of the lyrics and music smash right through your heart when you hear Dulli roar: "I'm gone, I'm gone but it's alright!" Never mind 'wall of sound', mixing blues with punk and Motown/Atlantic soul, the Whigs conjure up an aural tsunami of musical styles.
Dulli's lyrics have always excelled at being inwardly visual, being able to pin-point the source of pain and then rub a pound of salt into the tender wound. On "Let Me Lie To You" a parasitic Dulli serenades another potential victim into his web of loneliness with the immortal lines "You discover your lover / between the legs of another / and he's loving it / Let me lie to you". The bonus track Miles iz Ded is for me the trademark for the band and its legacy, bitter-sweet and almost uncomfortable scenarios in the back seats of cars, hotel rooms, your parent's bed; "If I stepped it off / walked outside your trance / crawled inside your mind / and got my hands into your pants!"
One of the greatest albums of the 1990's.