1965 – Salon
Rock bands (or, more accurately, rock fans) are eternally curious as to what certain drugs sound like. The Velvet Underground probably nailed down the sound of speed on “White Light/White Heat.” Ten years of techno and countless raves have searched for the perfect ecstasy beat, and Spacemen 3 records might as well be distilled from poppies. So it was only a matter of time before Prozac started cruising through pop music’s veins.
“1965” is the sound of lead singer Greg Dulli’s formerly chaotic soul stabilized, and glad about it. All the more interesting because the Afghan Whigs made their bones on an album trilogy (“Congregation,” the extraordinary “Gentlemen” and “Black Love”) that delved further into the emotional crimes committed by women and men in the name of sex, love and power than most folks ever want to go. Think Robert Altman’s most relentless portraits cast in complex songwriting and Dulli’s remarkable voice. But “1965” mutes the chaos in favor of musically simpler soul songs and horn charts, sex-rock for now people. Recorded in the pleasuredome of New Orleans, this is a straight-up party record, every single song favoring the hips over the head. Call it one long apology to the women he’s dissed over the years. “Take me, taste me, erase me, anything for a lover” he moans on “John the Baptist.” The man has never sounded so open, his great and terrible bastard persona nowhere to be found. Even if slick, zippy rockers like “66” and “Uptown” don’t deliver the nuanced carnage of Dulli’s past, you’re hard-pressed to care. You’re just happy the guy’s feeling better.