Somebody’s Knocking is the eleventh solo album by ex-Screaming Trees frontman, Mark Lanegan. Lanegan says that Joy Division, The Stooges, Love and, perhaps surprisingly, New Order have all influenced this album. Despite having always been a fan of electronic music, the sounds are now making their way into his otherwise fags-and-whiskey-drenched gruff rock sound as it’s what he listens to most these days.
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There's a line in Mark Lanegan's new album where he sings that 'I was there as a make-up artist'. This sense of shapeshifting is present throughout 'Somebody's Knocking'. On the same song, X, he says he 'grew' himself 'a pair of horns'. The best and worst thing about the album is this ability to chop, change, borrow, steal from other genres. For instance, on opener 'Disbelief Suspension' there are Georgio Moroder synths, a Bernard Sumner-esque guitar line, and sneering rock 'n' roll vocals. When Lanegan achieves an alchemy of marrying various genres and styles it sounds unified and X. I love the minimal wave arrangement, 80s chorus-drenched guitar line, and IDM-flavoured percussion on 'Dark Disco Jag'.
There's a bit of waffle about a 'heart of defiance' and some pretty lame drug references that wear a little thin. However, Lanegan remains lyrically interesting. There's a nifty dissection of capitalism on 'Penthouse High' where he sings about being 'caught in a trap' but 'can't stop dreaming'. He's got this ability to introduce some dried-up, dessicated line then follow it up with something that completely refigures it. On 'Paper Hat' (an album highlight) he sings 'girl don't throw my love away' (snooooze) then follows it with 'it feels like the last winning hand I'll ever hold'. He can grumble something about the 'theatre of the grotesque' and contrast it with something more mundane like 'fly me direct to Bermuda, or connect in Miami'. Brilliant.
In the worst moments, Lanegan sounds like Axl Rose fronting The Cult, in the best, it's Captain Beefheart locked into the throbbing heart of New Order circa 'Technique'.
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- Somebody's Knocking by Mark Lanegan Band
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