The Afghan Whigs
Do to the Beast
May 06, 2014 Web Exclusive
Like R.E.M. without Berry, Queens of the Stone Age without Oliveri, Pixies without Deal, or The Spice Girls without Ginger, Do to the Beast is good but not exquisite and just not quite right. Because it lacks the presence of original guitarist Rick McCollum, the longer you spend with Do to the Beast the more it resembles how the next Twilight Singers album would have sounded, only repackaged under the more lucrative Afghan Whigs brand. The Twilight Singers (Greg Dulli's other band) are pretty great but they're often a little too shiny, a little too polite, a little too bloody professional, competent, and well-produced. Following this trajectory, Do to the Beast even boasts occasional camp keyboard flourishes and in "Algiers" it has a lead single so tame it resembles beach-dwelling black-and-white balladeer Chris Isaak. Opener "Parked Outside" has a kick to it, "It Kills" is about as dark as Dulli can get these days, and the downbeat-Springsteenian "Can Rova" is undeniably lovely, but ultimately Do to the Beast lacks that gritty, seedy bite that defined The Afghan Whigs' greatest moments.
Still, however much polish he's applying to his music, it's always a pleasure to hear the existential soulfulness of Dulli's voice, like a drug-damaged philanderer screaming into the void or at his own shockingly alien-like reflection in the cracked, coke-dusted mirror. If only he still had somebody who could match that level of distressed emotion with their heartrending guitar. (www.theafghanwhigs.com)
Author rating: 6/10