1965 – Alternative Press
Rating: Thumbs Up (Enthusiastically Endorsed)
Lock up anything that moves – it’s the Afghan Whigs.
“You can fuck my body, baby. But please, don’t fuck my mind.” There it is, up front ‘ the lyric, I wager, that every review of 1965 will cite. And I’m sure Whigs mainman Greg Dulli would back that bet. Cheap? Calculated? Sure, but on an a lbum that repeatedly solicits the question: “What? Does Dulli really believe he’s the hot stuff the ladies can’t get enough of?” The line from “Sylvia” responds like a diamond bullet to foreheads and funny bones.
Though I’m sure some ladies (and gentlemen) will disagree, Mr. Hot Dick ‘ when played, uh, straight ‘ was not one of Dulli’s more convincing personas. When his literate bad-boy routine was cut with a genuine-sounding wounded quality on Congregation and Gentlemen, empathetic souls of both genders lined up for repeated servings. On 1965, real heartache has been replaced, for the most part, with a playfulness between the sheets ‘ or, more accurately, in the bathroom to where Dulli beckons in a whis per during the intro to “Something Hot.” Which is fine. However universal the Whigs’ first two albums were (let’s forget 1996’s ambitious jape, Black Love), 1965 shows that Dulli has moved on and is confident enough to display a sense of hum or about himself. Without such growth he would’ve risked getting stuck in a furrow adjoining Mark Eitzel’s.
Loverman persona aside, Dulli and the Whigs have fashioned a lean album of libidinous grooves expertly punctuated with horns, strings and R&B back-up chicks. Templates for this album might have been the Stones’ Black and Blue, Prince’s Black Album, or Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing. And though the Whigs assimilated those influences long ago, here they finally seem comfortable enough to tip-toe over the top, as they do on the Princely beatbox-and-moan interlude “Sweet Son of a Bitch” and with t he above-mentioned lyric, among others.
And if I haven’t namechecked Dulli’s long-suffering bandmates till now, guitarist Rick McCollum and bassist John Curley, it’s only because they’ve dovetailed their parts so seamlessly within the album’s undulations that they’ve become pra ctically indistinguishable from the whole in the best possible way. Consider them lubricant. Dulli can use all he can get on this date. (Columbia)
– Robert Cherry