Unbreakable – Paste

4 Stars

A thorough exploration of one of the ’90s most quietly consistent, willfully difficult yet brilliant bands

Disproportionately, I have found few girls who dig the Afghan Whigs. So unctuous, trenchant and naked was Greg Dulli’s triangulation of the male id that it can often be uneasy listening, particularly if you feel like a potential target. Lost in this psychodrama, though, is the distinctiveness, expressive elegance and courage of the band’s approach. Pulling from every significant Whigs release other than Big Top Halloween (and not scrimping on Black Love, albeit at the expense of Up In It), this collection focuses on the songs, which, for the most part, shine like black obsidian jewels in the lamplight of a dangerous seduction. The inclusion of a snaky cover of “Come See About Me” from the Uptown Avondale EP further exposes the soul-grunge flare that set this band apart from others of the era, while the inclusion of two modest but solid new songs reminds us how significant the contributions of bassist John Curley and guitarist Rick McCollum were.

Looking back at the early-to-mid-’90s, you’d be hard pressed to find too many contemporaries whose output was this consistent or whose dark insight was this gripping.

– Jeff Leven

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