Under Review: The Twilight Singers – Dynamite Steps

Greg Dulli has devised a pretty effective way of expressing his myriad of emotions. He divvies up his output amongst various bands and projects, each best suited to a particular creative mindset. His angst used to be channeled through The Afghan Whigs until their breakup in 2001. Now that the fury has found an outlet in The Gutter Twins, Dulli’s most sophisticated outfit, The Twilight Singers, can resume its mission of ominous sleaze. Though mostly dormant while Dulli toured with fellow alt-hero Mark Lanegan, The Twilight Singers have returned in a way that suggests the violent release of previously bottled-up ideas. Dynamite Steps is a smoldering, dynamic album that is just as strong as any of Dulli’s rightfully praised works.

Even in The Afghan Whigs, a group that never quite reached the widespread popularity of its more straightforward grunge peers, Dulli experimented with atmospheres and eclectic influences. Dynamite Steps is indeed a strong whole, with scattered standouts like the blazing “Waves” and the Ani Difranco-featuring “Blackbird And The Fox.” Still, it’s the album’s middle portion that provides some of the most rewarding moments.

Starting with “Get Lucky,” a cautionary tale about/invitation to getting mixed up with a guy like Dulli, Dynamite Steps explodes into a sweeping, dramatic production. The come-ons continue into the exhilarating “On The Corner” and its more wistful counterpart, “Gunshots.” The latter song shows a side of Dulli that’s sentimental rather than brooding; juxtaposing cowering from warning shots with getting intimate in the throes of passion. Speaking of passion, Dulli’s vocal performance on Dynamite Steps rarely gets more intense than on “Never Seen No Devil,” which also features some woozy horns and strings in its thick mix. That’s the thing about The Twilight Singers and Dynamite Steps: though the music is bracing and forceful, it’s beguilingly circumspect. Yes, Dulli makes some pretty lovely and dark music, but it also rewards (and elicits) listen after listen. There’s a lot to digest on Dynamite Steps, and you’ll love each and every attempt to capture all of its allure.

 

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~ by E. on March 9, 2011.

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