The Gutter Twins Darken Brooklyn for a Night
Twins in the Lemmon and Matthau sense, The Gutter Twins are longtime buddies Mark Lanegan (of Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age fame) and Greg Dulli (of Afghan Whigs and The Twilight Singers). ‘90s rock fans will eat this stuff up: an indie act with purebred Seattle grunge pedigree and an unlikely pairing that works because it operates in stark contrasts, rocking out with hard-hitting fuzz one moment, hushing down to ethereal shimmer the next.
Lanegan possesses the voice of God, if God chain smoked and had a penchant for single malts, and his gravelly, rumbling baritone—capable of dipping so low you can feel it in your chest—is The Gutter Twins’ single best asset. But Dulli’s melancholic, chameleon-like vocals complicate the texture, frequently layering over his partner’s voice in thick harmony. This complex sound—like a slab of dangerously black marble with a beautiful sheen—is what transforms this band’s otherwise pretty generic grunge rock songs into something special.
Their Thursday show at Greenpoint’s Warsaw mostly showcased the band’s darker side, roaring out the gates with the crunchy triple-guitar attack of their debut album Saturnalia and rarely letting up until some light piano balladry toward the end. Songs from previous lives, including updated cuts from Screaming Trees, The Twilight Singers and Lanegan’s prolific solo career, mixed well with the Twins’ bluesy, mid-paced, minor-key anthems of failed love, loneliness and desperation.
The many fans packed into Warsaw’s small theater seemed not to mind the sameness that sometimes crept into the long set, jumping and flailing limbs with each heavy groove, egged on by Dulli’s sarcastic bravado and Lanegan’s quiet brooding. The Twins are all about atmosphere, and their music approaches a gothic bleakness that seems more profound than their lyrics of longing and lost loves suggest. That inky, irresistible blackness, as they sang in unison during a cut from their recent Adorata EP, “comes creeping, comes swallowing everything in its wake.”