Powder Burns – Derby Evening Telegraph (UK)

Dave Brierley

There exist predominantly 3 types of break up in music. The first represents an everlasting split – acrimony of inter-stellar proportions, laced with wounds that fight time long enough to never heal. Some do, however. These are the rifts that cannot resist the hand that the dollar sign and old father time deals them – the ‘reunion’ is that golden opportunity to revisit the days of success before the idea of separate ways got in the way.

And then there is the third example ; the rebirth. Embodied by a modest acceptance that a project has run its course, the rebirth throws open the door to reinvention and realignment. It reassesses the situation, readjusts, and then reconciles the death of your old favourite band with the birth of a new one.

When the Afghan Whigs split a few years back, American alternative rock lost one of its finest acts of the past 15 years. But then conceived of one to replace it for the next 15 – the Twilight Singers.

Led by former Whigs lead man Greg Dulli, the Twilight Singers are every part the heir to his former outfit’s throne. And, whilst 3 albums have helped establish the promise that they are as good, Powder Burns fulfils every inch of the bargain.

The impact is instantaneous. As soon as opening track ‘I’m ready’ drops its orgasmic crush of crunching riffs, it isn’t long before the pleas of Dullis instinctive rasp are seduced into a chorus of infectious oblivion. Elsewhere, the record rediscovers the dark atmospheric rock of the Whigs’ classic Black Love ; ‘There’s been an accident’ and ‘Underneath the Waves’ both articulate the epic, string-laden and piano-led post-grunge poise as before, whilst the sombre, candle-lit balladry of ‘Candy cane crawl’ resonates with the same reflective level of prayer-like poignancy that still remains unchallenged by any of the band’s contemporaries today.

Once again, a breath-taking sense of urgency dominates the Twilight Singers’ stream of melody – particularly in the foot-stomping piano swagger of the prostitution-based ‘Forty dollars’. The realm of sin, as always, is never far from that of sex in the world of Greg Dulli, but then that’s all part of the attraction. The stalking guitar melody of the exquisite ‘Bonnie Brae’ drips with a strutting ambience that underpins his charm – all soulful foreplay, clipped by bursts of harmonic ecstasy.

Soaked in a neon-lit gaze, this is a record that burns with as much of the dark-hearted energy and soul-noir as anything that has come before in the chapters of vice that verse Dulli and co. That’ll be the breathless blur of the cityscape underworld – as seen by the guy who’s still the sexiest goddamn motherf**ker in American alternative rock.

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