splendid > reviews > 9/11/2004
Mark Lanegan
Mark Lanegan
Beggars Banquet

Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Can't Come Down"

Buy me now
If his stint in Queens of the Stone Age has taught Mark Lanegan anything, it's that life is a lot more tolerable when you're wandering through it stinking of sin and seeing double. His tattered wail has always hinted at a man who's seen more than his share of fucked-up situations, and has, more or less, escaped them with a few broken bones and a deeply scarred psyche. He has never sounded more desperate than he does traipsing through Bubblegum's dark alleys -- and strangely, it's that superego-addled despondency that makes this his most compelling, not to mention complete, work to date.

Lanegan's voice has been distilled to perfection -- his bourbon-ravaged pipes are tailor-made for Bubblegum's languid tales of drugs, sex and salvation. It's all his worst junkie desires come to life, from the greasy stomp of "Sideways in Reverse" to the moribund and reflective "One Hundred Days" and loved-to-death lament "Come to Me". Even a host of top-gun guest stars (Greg Dulli, Izzy and Duff from G'n'R, QOTSA's Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri, PJ Harvey) don't detract from the hunger and conviction of Lanegan's performance.

After a succession of attempts, Lanegan has finally assembled a band with sufficient dexterity to bring the dejection of his desires alive through song. "Methamphetamine Blues" is pure damnation thunder, Lanegan wailing over an army of clip-shorn beats culled from the killing floor of a slaughterhouse, and the woozy, bloozy "When Your Number is Up" is Bobby Bland's "Dreamer" after a yearlong LSD-and-whiskey binge. "Hit the City" and "Come to Me", his collaborations with PJ Harvey, sound frightfully natural, her primordial grace perfectly balancing his tattered, nicotine-stained romanticism. Most potent (and harrowing) of the lot is "Can't Come Down", a grainy addict's rumination that sounds as if Lanegan made a deal with the devil to secure its tin-can-on-a-string rhythms and burning angel guitar lines.

Lanegan isn't quite the storyteller than Tom Waits is, but in terms of attitude and timbre, he's the only performer who even comes close to combing the depths of his wry, boozified genius -- and like Waits, he gives us the distinct feeling that he'd just as soon kick the living shit out of you as talk to you. The difference between Lanegan and most performers of his ilk is that you know he has lived life at the bottom end, so to hear him speak of atrocity, pain and craving is to hear it from the horse's mouth.

Statements like "Would you be ashamed if I shake like I'm dying?" (from "Wedding Dress") may sound perplexing, but once you wrap your head around Lanegan's tainted worldview you'll realize that he spits and roars to keep his inner demons at bay, if only to drink his sorrows away another day. He's reached the zenith of his career; let's just hope he sticks around long enough to enjoy the fruits of his labor.



Brian Cherney

Tomas Korber


The Rude Staircase

Dian Diaz



The Crimes of Ambition

Karl Blau


Gary Noland

Tommy and The Terrors


Bound Stems

Gary Noland

Carlo Actis Dato and Baldo Martinez

Quatuor Bozzoni

The Positions

Comet Gain

Breadfoot featuring Anna Phoebe

Secret Mommy

The Advantage

For a Decade of Sin: 11 Years of Bloodshot Records

The Slow Poisoner

Alan Sondheim & Ritual All 770



Five Corners Jazz Quintet

Cameron McGill

Drunk With Joy

10 Ft. Ganja Plant

The Hospitals

Ross Beach

Big Star

The Goslings

Lair of the Minotaur

Koji Asano

Splendid looks great in Firefox. See for yourself.
Get Firefox!

Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste probably didn't even know that he'd be the subject of Jennifer Kelly's final Splendid interview... but he is!

That Damn List Thing
& - The World Beyond Your Stereo
Pointless Questions
File Under
Pointless Questions
& - The World Beyond Your Stereo

Read reviews from the last 30, 60, 90 or 120 days, or search our review archive.

It's back! Splendid's daily e-mail update will keep you up to date on our latest reviews and articles. Subscribe now!
Your e-mail address:    
All content ©1996 - 2011 Splendid WebMedia. Content may not be reproduced without the publisher's permission.