THE AFGHAN WHIGS – ‘Do To The Beast’
(Out April 15 on Sub Pop)
“A LOT OF RECORDS I’VE DONE stemmed from epochal experiences in my life. These new songs are very visual to me. They come from the neighbourhoods of my mind”. Frontman Greg Dulli always seemed to have Rock music sewn up good and proper. With his band The Afghan Whigs, formed in Cincinatti, Ohio, way back in 1988, Dulli has had a stranglehold over satisfying the elements that pander to our lowest and most complex musical requirements. It’s theirs to do with what they will and on Do To The Beast, their first record in over a decade and a half, Dulli and compatriots have pretty much picked up where they left off.
We’re not talking about some manufactured slab of oiled beef, foaming Pop pap at the mouth. We’re speaking of a perfect Alt-Rock band that has the know-how and the talent to knock out glistening classics, blended with suss and style that continues the true Rock tradition of actually having something to say. Of course having something to say can be totally tedious without a combined sense of sonic aesthetics, which the Whigs have in spades. Not totally unlike their seminal ’93 masterpiece Gentlemen but much like it’s ’96 follow up Black Love, Do To The Beast is expectedly groove-laden and darkly dynamic from nose to tail. Twisted, exaggeratedly hateful, brutal yet curiously beautiful, cuts like weighty opener Parked Outside, Matamoros and first single Algiers are passionate and visceral, propelled by Dulli’s virtuoso howl.
While the militaristic sombre piano beat-keeping on Lost In The Woods is pure Whigs, probably not for the casual or curious observer, Can Rova and I Am Fire despite being emminently listenable, never really deliver on early promise. But it matters not. There’s a plethora of excellence here where fillers are banished and songs like The Lottery tether angst to melody to prosperous effect. The Afghan Whigs have placed a new marker and returned a set littered with chromatic chords, orchestration and lyrical manipulation. Did we expect anything else? (8)