Saturnalia – Alarm Magazine
Beginning in the late 1980s, the voices of Afghan Whigs front man Greg Dulli and the Screaming Trees’ Mark Lanegan taught many young girls (and boys) convincing lessons about the sensual powers of rock music. Since then, Lanegan’s prolific career has included a number of critically acclaimed solo records and collaborations with the likes of Kurt Cobain, Isobel Campbell, and Queens of the Stone Age. In turn, Dulli has created a successful career with one-time Whigs side project The Twilight Singers.
On Saturnalia, their first joint effort as The Gutter Twins, the two long-time friends mesh rock, gospel, folk, world beats, and electronics. Diverse songs showcase each man’s agility as a songwriter as well as his stunning vocal talent. The elegant, melancholic opening track “The Stations” leads to Tom-Waits-without-the-gravel blues number “Seven Stories Underground” and the John Lennon-inspired tune “I Was in Love With You.”
The record is accessible due to the duo’s pop sensibilities, yet it remains multidimensional and intelligent, at times reminiscent of groups such as Black Heart Procession or Mogwai. Dulli’s tenor is a warm compliment to Lanegan’s brooding bass and vice versa. The swaggering verses of “Idle Hands” morph into sincere choruses; could this be the mark of men with acute Don Juanism? The album succeeds by keeping listeners on the edge of their seats, eagerly anticipating the twist in the next scene.