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Album Review

by Mark Lanegan Band

Heavenly Recordings

Review Date
28th April 2017
Reviewed by
Paul Larsen

If it’s true that dark times create great art, then how do dark times affect dark artists? Do they thrive and become something exceptionally dark? Or do they stagnate in the darkness? Mark Lanegan, the original moody crooner of alt-rock and blues could provide an answer with the release of new record, Gargoyle.

Put together in around a month with assists from long-time friends and collaborators including Josh Homme and Allain Johannes (QOTSA), Greg Dulhi (Afghan Whigs) and Duke Garwood, Gargoyle is Lanegan’s first record since 2014’s Phantom Radio and marks the culmination of the long and storied career of one of rock’s most iconic voices.

Early on, you can tell Lanegan’s having a blast making this record. The pulsating and melodic ‘Nocturne’ is followed up by ‘Blue Blue Sea’, an electro sea-shanty layered in bubbling synths and aching strings. There’s almost a Britpop sound to ‘Beehive’, an upbeat guitar-laden track which wouldn’t sound out of place in the muddy fields of Reading or Glastonbury in the mid 90s.

The bright spots don’t let up however, and the positively carnival-like ‘Emperor’ for all its jauntiness is countered instantly by the brooding chill of ‘Goodbye to the Beauty’. It’s an aggressive/depressive couplet that evokes the absurdity and seriousness of the current political climate. Or maybe it’s just the climate that’s caught up with Lanegan’s music.

Far from being a despairing eulogy to the world, Gargoyle is a bright and magnificent record. Industrial and broody, sure, but capable of shifting the listener’s gaze from shoes to stars.


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