Twilight Singers are still sexually sinister and dark

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Artist: Twilight Singers
Album: Dynamite Steps

Label: Sub Pop Records
Score: 6.5/10

No matter where he goes or who he’s singing with, ex-Afghan Whigs leader Greg Dulli brings a style all his own.

Dynamite Steps, the Sub Pop-released fifth record from his main post-Whigs project The Twilight Singers, is another exercise in that style — sinister, sexually-driven, electronically-tinged alternarock darkness. Even though the 24-year rock veteran is up to lucky number 13 in the career albums total, Dynamite Steps shows no signs of Dulli slowing down. The trademark howl, tension-building tempos, and an abundance of minor-key melodrama are all there — for better or for worse.

You won’t find a weak track on Steps, but you’re also unlikely to find any songs that are discernibly different from the pack. “She Was Stolen” is the closest it comes, with its trance-like piano and acoustic guitar strums providing a relatively refreshing foundation for Dulli to wail over. But when you get to the end of the record, this isn’t much that the separates dark, synth bass-y opener “Last Night in Town” from the dark, drum machine-y mid-album cut “On the Corner,” or the dark, space-y title track that closes it all out.  That being said, Steps is consistent, an album tailor-made for the point when the latenight out hits the final few cocktails.

While there are no gigantic leaps of creativity, each chorus has its moment (see “Get Lucky” and “Gunshots”), and the mishmash of electric, acoustic, electronic, and orchestral instruments has its way of building to an otherworldly crescendo, which is satisfying no matter how many times it’s pulled out of the bag of tricks. Fans that found their way to Dulli via The Gutter Twins, his fantastic duo with local legend Mark Lanegan, will also be pleased to hear “Be Invited,” which boasts the familiar Devil-strained vocals of the former Screaming Trees frontman, adding suspense to the otherwise restrained track.

Each song on Dynamite Steps is carefully crafted in the Dulli fashion, meaning loyalists are getting what they’re coming for. In 2011, that isn’t going to bring new listeners to the party, but something tells me Dulli is just fine with that — as long as he gets to do it all over again in three years.

Brent Stecker

About Brent Stecker

Brent is a journalist and small-time musician based in Wenatchee, Wash. His passion for music wasn’t discovered until his teenage years, however, when he first got his hands on a Rage Against the Machine CD. He spent the rest of his adolescence broadening his musical tastes, obsessively learning guitar, and harnessing his writing abilities in journalism classes.