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Pitchfork Reviews I’m a Soldier/Magazine

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New Music: The Afghan Whigs: “I’m a Soldier” / “Magazine”

Pretty much every song Greg Dulli has ever written is about how he wants to have sex/do drugs with you or how he used to have sex/do drugs with you and doesn’t want to anymore. Somehow, he’s been doing this for two decades and it hasn’t gotten boring yet. So when the Afghan Whigs reunited last year to record two new songs for the Rhino Records anthology Unbreakable, and Dulli told interviewers that one of the tunes, “I’m a Soldier”, was inspired by the war in Iraq, it seemed like a recipe for disaster.

Luckily, you can’t teach an old horndog new tricks. Although “I’m a Soldier” might actually be about a soldier in Iraq, it sure sounds like it’s about how Greg Dulli wants to have sex with you. The song begins with a martial beat and Dulli grunting like a private on the march… or a man thrusting his pelvis into the object of his affection. Soon enough, he’s panting about guns and “unload[ing] the lead into the night” and “giv[ing] ’em everything you got” and stuff, while powerhouse background vocalist Susan Marshall (who you might recognize from her tours with Cat Power or her work on the Whigs’ final album, 1965) moans and wails.

“Magazine”, the second new Afghan Whigs track on Unbreakable, began its life right before the band broke up in 2000, but wasn’t finished until last year. The song also appears to be about doin’ it, though where, with whom, and under what circumstances remain unclear. It’s one of the more genuinely pretty tunes in the Whigs catalog, with muted synths and electronic twitches. Dulli’s voice is in tender, caressing loverman mode, even if he refers to the person he’s seducing as “my enemy,” and the girl (played by Dana Hamblen of the Cincinnati band Fairmount Girls) sweetly coos, “You think that I don’t know how to destroy ya, don’t cha?”

Ah well, love and war were always pretty much the same thing to the Afghan Whigs.

[both from Unbreakable: A Retrospective 1990-2006; due 06/05/07 on Rhino]
Posted by Amy Phillips

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