Review Summary: 21st century blues.
In 2002, Queens Of The Stone Age released their breakthrough record, their masterpiece "Songs For The Deaf". It is fascinating album, mix of wild and furious rock and roll songs, but some notes show awareness or fear of consequences, bad flashbacks. Mark Lanegan is responsible for many of these moments.
"Bubblegum", his first LP after "Songs For The Deaf" is a logical step further, because of its very low bass-sounds, mechanic-metallic guitar parts (Homme and Oliveri played on "Bubblegum"). "Bubblegum" is darker, more obsessed record, full of tragic stories, fu**ed up characters, laments of lost love, so you can't call it grunge, or stoner rock, but blues or even folk or country.
The most touching moments are his ballads, "Strange Religion", "Come To Me" and "Morning Glory Wine", not too far from Gram Parsons. Of course, there is a huge difference between Gram and Lanegan. Parsons is beautiful fallen angel, too weak to fight, but so emotional and charming to make you cry. Lanegan is hunted beast, lonely wolf, seriously wounded, but also survivor, ready to bite off his own leg if it is necessary. His presence and singing are intimidating and very convincing. Listen to intro of "Metamphetamine Blues", that horror movie laughing, and a couple of seconds after Lanegan cries out: "I don't want to leave this heaven so soon" making Amy Winehouse sound like a good little girl. He sounds so indestructible and strong, but also very devil-ish. Track six: "Will I get hit" I hardly care."
And although it is record full of various demons, Lanegan is strong enough to cope with them the best he can. It is almost a perfect record, with great sense of timing and editing so it is never indulgent. Well, the songs "Can't Come Down", "Head" and "Driving Death Valley Blues" (first one is too chaotic for its own good, other two sound like more of the same) should be put off the album, but it is only a minor aberration.
Although "Bubblegum" is credited to Mark Lanegan Band, there is no real band, but lot of friends and colleagues who helped him with making of this record. And they all made a good job, the playing is universally strong. So we can talk about his "real" band. And duets on "Bombed" and "Come To Me" suggested direction of his next project, "Ballad of The Broken Seas" with Isobel Campbell.