Unbreakable – Amazon.com

Amazon.com

For all Greg Dulli’s earnestness and thorough self-deprecation, maybe he and the Afghan Whigs just showed up to the post-punk, soul-tinted party a little early. Beyond the nervy-edged guitar riffage of “Retarded” and Dulli’s muted, growly vocal, there isn’t a whole lot on this retrospective to suggest that the Whigs couldn’t just appear in 2007 and be hugely popular. The big-guitar and piano combination on “What Jail Is Like” and Dulli’s unmistakable presence as a singer rekindle the listener’s desire that the Whigs get solidly beyond niche-level acceptance. Dulli’s astringent lyrics are centrally important throughout the band’s oeuvre and stand out here (witness the heartfelt vocal tug of “Be Sweet” get countered by the famous “I got a dick for a brain” line). The Whigs are believably radio-ready–especially after so many male singer/songwriters have confessed to so much on the FM dial. As for this 18-song collection, fans will quibble over song selections. What they’ll agree on is that the two new tracks, “I’m a Soldier” and “Magazine,” both slow(er) and groovy, could make great strides for a new Whigs’ era–which is apparently unlikely, given Dulli’s commitment to the Twilight Singers. –Andrew Bartlett

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