The gravel-voiced ex-Screaming Trees frontfella Mark Lanegan created this new album with substantial help from ex-Exit Calm man Rob Marshall, who donated ten pieces for Lanegan to add to. The resulting Gargoyle album is a gothically moody epic of alternative rock, anchored by Lanegan’s rich vocals and some fierce guitars. On Heavenly.
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Mark Lanegan sounds like… what does he sound like? I used to think he was some super gravel-toned grump, his voice all twisted and soured and cracked, but listening to ‘Gargoyle’ I’ve come to realise how light it is, his post Screaming Trees work carrying a melodic loveliness that’s hard to really feel threatened by. So maybe he just sounds like, I dunno, a protective tree ent? That sounds nice. Anyway here’s his new album, recorded with the help of ex-Exit Calm dude Rob Marshall, who apparently contributed very heavily to all ten tracks on offer here, giving Lanegan the foundations for a whole album of polished gloom.
This is pretty fun, to be honest: listen to Lanegan delight in how his worn, deep and tumbling voice matches off against sparkly synths and elegiac guitar tones. “Nocturne” has a spiralling synth line and a drenched backdrop of guitars that feels almost opposite to his vocals gnarly hue. “Blue Blue Sea” is a ripple of electronica getting ready to descend its course towards the sea, its superfast rhythm and beaming melody coming under the heavy gaze of what sound like organ chords. Lanegan descends on the track like an omniscient deity checking in on his creation and putting some things back where they belong.
It has shades of Mark Kozelek’s meeting with Jimmy LaVille on ‘Perils from the Sea’, only it’s actually enjoyable. Lanegan has put his voice in some weird places before, and here he’s able to create the same feelings as ever: “Sister” has the feel of a benevolent Western, a hint of country smokiness amidst its busy framework of swirling ambience, marching drums and and sunburned chords. “Drunk on Destruction” has a jazzy programmed beat and a Coldplay guitar shred, yet Lanegan manages to intone and emote overtop and not sound foolish. It’s a busy record, but hats off to him -- he sounds totally nonplussed.
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- Gargoyle by Mark Lanegan Band
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