Blackberry Belle – CMJ 1
CMJ, issue 118, page 76
No doubt it’s happened to you. You’re walking down the street late at night, and there they are: two strangers – lovers, you realize – in the heat of a pitched private battle they’ve taken aggressively public. Like muscle revealed by flayed skin, pain and betrayal and recrimination are laid bare to a world that shouldn’t see it – and tact decrees you avert your eyes and move on. But you can’t. It’s too true. Ex-Afghan Whigs frontmane Greg Dulli makes art of that experience. The Whigs’ masterpiece, Gentlemen, was unsettling precisely because it was at once terrifyingly raw and terrifyingly private, a concept album about vampiric love that won’t die, no matter how many stakes the principals drive into its heart. Dulli’s first post-Whigs album, Twilight As Played By The Twilight Singers, turned down the volume on the intensity, weaving a jazzy atmosphere around his typically R&B- and punk-influenced sound. Follow-up Blackberry Belle keeps the sonic experimentation going, notably in its hip-hop beats, but Dulli’s back in full-throttle guitar and vocal form. The album is gorgeously crafted (“Papillon” and “Fat City” are particularly swoon-inducing), but in feeling it’s Whigs wild and Whigs raunchy. It’s a little overwrought, but that’s the point: This, Dulli seems to assert, is the intensity with which love should be waged.
Thanks to berkstin for the transcription.