Review Summary: Deeper, and more introspective than ever, The Twilight Singers return after five years with an album well worth the wait.
In singing of late night, hedonistic debauchery, Greg Dulli comes across more personable, and more relateable than he honestly should. This is because the man, as well as the band, The Twilight Singers, does such a commendable job in evoking more emotions and moods than would be expected from the escapades of a New Orleans playboy. He’s enjoying the ride--the tempestuous night life and one-night stands--but under the surface, there’s torment and regret, which is why Dynamite Steps
manages to feel like the band’s most personal, evocative release to date.
This is thanks in part to Greg Dulli, the vocalist. Dulli is expressive in every sense of the word, although at times he’s nearly unpalatable. The tortuous straining of his vocal chords in “Last Night in Town,” for example, is simply atrocious. Sounding like a cross between himself (a raspy bari-tenor) and a haggard Randy Newman, Dulli creaks and cracks during the songs entirety. This isn’t a one time occurrence either, as the guy displays his weaknesses all over the place, and in a strange way, it’s sort of charming
. Along with the more “exposed” feeling of the lyrics and the music, he feels more frail and open when he’s showing the faults of his voice--much like the faults in his character he so foolishly displays.
hearkens back to the late 90’s/early 2000’s alt rock movement, albeit a tad more dark and murky. It’s mellow and subdued in many parts, and the moody and cool atmosphere permeates a lot of the album. There's a bevy of string and percussive sounds, which really goes a long way in giving a lot of texture to the rest of the band. The bass rumbles and the guitar crashes, but it's reverberated off a softer, all encompassing atmosphere. This gives songs like “The Beginning of the End” and “Never Seen No Devil” their smaltzy and chill mood, like the band is playing in a smoky bar or club. Other tracks such as “Waves” and “On the Corner” feature a more streamlined, rock and roll sound, with some of the best, most intriguing guitar and percussion work. “She Was Stolen” is perhaps the most minimal of all the songs, but is without a doubt the most effective. With a mere keyboard and drum set, Dulli wails and croons about love lost in a most melancholy tone. It truly is beautiful, although nigh uncomfortably personal, which are why these tracks work--they‘re honest
, and everything, even Dulli’s all-or-nothing vocals, seems to work just perfectly. The piano driven passages, the introspective lyrics, and the appropriate melodramatic alt rock stylings all converge, making each track shine. Sure, a couple of duds (“Last Night in Town” and “Gunshots”) mar an otherwise pristine track list, but the remainder of the work is so stunningly consistent and varied, that it goes a long way in remedying this.
, The Twilight Singers first effort in nearly five years, is a new standard for the band. While it doesn’t necessarily top Powder Burns
or Blackberry Belle
, the new, more matured direction is welcome. It’s a beautifully melodramatic, self-deprecating romp through the mind of Greg Dulli, and really, that’s the side of the man we’ve come to know and love.