Mark Lanegan Band - Blues Funeral

While as an album it doesn't quite sustain in the same way, it does make for a fascinating companion piece to its predecessor, marking out a man who could so easily settle into a grizzled cliché pointedly refusing to do so.

 

Taking a while to get around to buying a record can be a problem ‘cos you read the other reviews. Reviews in which the words ‘dance’ and ‘disco’ have cropped up. Hmmm.
It’s has been a long time since the thoroughly fantastic Bubblegum – its sombre and skillful songs marking it out as the sort of ‘sensitive but hard as nails’ record that many a hard rock singer has attempted to make on going solo, but rarely even got within the same universe. Since then Mark Lanegan has been touting his tonsils around numerous collaborations – bringing narrow-eyed gravitas and an edge of danger to all manner of unlikely partners. He’s evidently been picking up lessons too. Not that Blues Funeral marks a huge departure in feel from its predecessor – the heart of the songs is in a similar place, with bar-room ballads with grungy guitar and pounding rhythms cutting in all over – but the textures and adornments are different.

Subtly at first, with a little Soulsaverene atmospherics here and a dash more of a Campbellian pop shimmy there but gradually opening up into more explicitly electronic backing. Harborview Hospital takes the National’s “what if U2 weren’t annoying?” starting point and folds in some euphoric 80s synth work and Leviathan even briefly finds space for some twiddly noodling out of the proggy end of krautrock before dissolving into a trippy multi-layered vocal. All of which serves to bring light and air into Lanegan’s sometimes oppressive glower. Regardless, even Ode To Sad Disco with its tinny beat and almost hopeful swells isn’t really going to cut it down The Astoria on a Saturday night. 
While as an album it doesn't quite sustain in the same way, it does make for a fascinating companion piece to its predecessor, marking out a man who could so easily settle into a grizzled cliché pointedly refusing to do so.

 

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