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Philadelphia CityPaper.net

Itís been a rough road for The Twilight Singers. The side project of sandpaper-voiced Afghan Whigs frontman Greg Dulli — backed by friends and jazz session musicians — had tape-trading fans salivating in sonic lust over demos in the late í90s. But those recordings got shelved, and when Dulli revisited them a few years later on a break from the Whigs, he enlisted British breakbeat duo Fila Brazilla for some reason. By the time Twilight as Played by the Twilight Singers dropped in 2000, the finished product had devolved into a sloppy smattering of New Orleans soul and New York house. But if the first outing seemed like a distracted afterthought, flash-forward to this yearís Blackberry Belle (Birdman). The Whigs have officially split now, and Dulli comes across confident and focused while dishing out his trademark dark-side-of-lust lyrics. Electronics are toned down, but far more effective; with shuffling rhythmic groove, mellifluous keys and Dulliís voice dropping to an intense low, “St. Gregory” does in a single song what Twilight failed to do in an entire album. Other moments take in twinkling piano (“Fat City”) and crunching rock (“Esta Noche”), and the setís overall structure has more punch than anything the singer has done since the Whigsí 1996 effort, Black Love. Twilight might have been the first time in his career Dulli disappointed, but by the sounds of Belle, it may be the only.

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