Twilight Singers - Dynamite Steps (2LP)
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The fifth full-length outing from head Afghan Whig and Gutter Twin Greg Dulli's Twilight Singers bristles with the kind of feverish late-night electricity that leaves notebooks in tatters and ashtrays spilling over onto the basement floor. Boasting a small army of maverick co-conspirators that includes Ani DiFranco, Joseph Arthur, Petra Haden, Carina Round, Nick McCabe (The Verve), and Mark Lanegan, Dulli has crafted another solid collection of murky, innuendo-laced slabs of electro-tinged dirge rock that examines the darker corners of the human psyche. Part Richard Hawley and part Nick Cave, the album is built around Dulli's gritty, imperfect vocal abilities, and it’s in the strained delivery of lines like “You crash the car to make the fever rise” (“Be Invited”) and “I get lucky sometimes” (“Get Lucky”), along with the cinematic sweep of cuts like “Last Night in Town” and “Gunshots,” that Dynamite Steps makes its biggest impressions. Dulli thrives on atmosphere, and while his inability to write the kind of sharp hooks or memorable choruses that have elevated other semi-dystopian malcontents into the relative mainstream is evident throughout the album, that sense of place makes Dynamite Steps feel less like a collection of songs and more like a long, dangerous, and unpredictable night on the town.