Sunday, 5 February 2012

Review: Mark Lanegan Band - Blues Funeral

 Maybe it's just me here, but my first encounter of the captivating gravelly voice of Mark Lanegan was in his collaborations with Queens of the Stone Age on 2002's Songs for the Deaf, as he unleashed these rich rough and bluesy tones on A Song for the Dead. On that song, he tells listeners "C'mon, let's go drivin'." And of course the imagery of taking a drive with someone with a voice as awesome as the one singing just seems to be an image that is the epitome of cool, as well as an image showing that in later life I probably shouldn't talk to strangers on my own. Anyways, after hearing him performing with Josh Homme, Nick Oliveri and Dave Grohl, I checked out his former days as frontman of grunge masters Screaming Trees and his other solo material and was amazed by the passion and soul that Lanegan put into his performance across these works. Better still that on Blues Funeral, Lanegan's first solo release in eight years, this sense of soul and poetic creativity has gone nowhere.

 The album sees Lanegan use his poetic charm in it's darkest manner, taking a lyrically poetic and grand look into the cold and unforgiving world of death, so the coolness he displayed with QOTSA is exchanged here for a blues-filled charm with an ultimate sense of somberness as Lanegan's blues-injected voice which is amazing in both howling and gristle gives tracks likes Bleeding Muddy Waters and Phantasmagoria Blues an extra depth into the mature and sophisticated lyrics of despair and mournfulness.
 Musically Lanegan manages to bring together a range of different styles and influences and create an artful and emotional impact with all of them. The style varies from Gray Goes Black's post-punk rhythm with synthesized backdrops, carrying a reminiscence to Joy Division, who Lanegan cited as an influence on the album, to the harder frenzied distorted grunge riffathon found on Riot In My House, sounding more akin to Lanegan's days in Screaming Trees, to the much more rapid and joyful Quiver Syndrome which in it's buzzing synthesizers and fast paced riffs carries more of a shoegaze influence. It's probably the most uplifting song on the album, although there wouldn't be much competition.
 The overall musical influence found is a psychedelic one of sweeping synthesizer backdrops and dwindling basslines to create a more spaced out and grand atmosphere. In the album's constant looking at themes of despair and darkness, a fairly gothic influence can be identified, albeit matured upon and given a classier makeover so it does feel more like extremely manic blues. However, this is entirely effortless in creating an atmosphere of gripping beauty throughout.
 Overall, this is an album worth checking out if you want to hear something with a mellow and melancholic atmosphere but till sounding incredibly fresh and awe-inspiring. Mark Lanegan's vocals are simply epic in their bluesy charm and are effortless in characterizing the album's prominent sense of woe and misery. And with a wide range of musical influences, from gothic dance to desert rock, every song is a new experience of overwhelming beauty. Really, this album is successful in presenting an emotional view of death and despair as it does so in a way that is permanently breathtaking.

 Mark Lanegan Band's Blues Funeral is out on the 6th of February via 4AD. Lanegan will tour the UK in March.

1 comment:

  1. Yes indeed, it's an excellent tune, since i wrote it has been spinning on repeat :)