sat 24/08/2019

CD of the Year: Mark Lanegan - Blues Funeral | reviews, news & interviews

CD of the Year: Mark Lanegan - Blues Funeral

CD of the Year: Mark Lanegan - Blues Funeral

His first album in eight years found the trademark descent into darkness leavened by melody

'Blues Funeral': don't let the flowers fool you

Quite reasonably, many of 2012’s year-end reviews focused on the triple celebrations of the Jubilee, Olympics, and Royal pregnancy. For many, the year was quite different. In February, on Blues Funeral, Mark Lanegan’s end-of-the-world vocals presaged apocalyptic weather, war and death. It felt like an Old Testament prophecy being filtered through a Seattle drug addict. Which it virtually was.

This was the Mark Lanegan Band’s first album in eight years. After 2004’s Bubblegum, Lanegan had concentrated on a series of collaborations, most notably with yang-to-his-ying, Isobel Campbell. With virtually every song on Bubblegum itself, however, featuring guest appearances, some felt even it to be hardly a true solo outing. On Blues Funeral Lanegan quashed any lingering doubts that he may be struggling with his own sound.

What makes this record stand out from comparable gothica is the sweetening of its brooding intensity through melody and innovative arrangements. The result is as effective if not as elegiac as Nick Cave’s pre-Grinderman classic, The Boatman’s Call. That LP is also famous for containing a surprising amount of God. Lanegan’s soul-shock from his years of drug addiction, however, focuses more on the devil. In “Harborview Hospital” he sees a demon rise on "crystal wings" and a hellhound being ridden down the hill. Such lyrics would sound over the top but for the lovely, light digitally-delayed guitar figure. The same trick is pulled off though the euphoric synth-pop on “Ode to Sad Disco”, and a Dandy Warhol-esque indie theme to “Quiver Syndrome”.

If, however, with Twelfth Night still a couple of days off, this all sounds too intense, may I suggest easing yourself in by listening to Dark Mark Does Christmas. It’s not commercially available – CDs were sold at concerts – but the footage below confirms the season of goodwill chez Lanegan does indeed sound like Yuletide around a moonshiner’s still.

Mark Lanegan reveals what he likes to sing around the tree

What makes this record stand out from comparable gothica is the sweetening of its brooding intensity

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Share this article

Comments

It certainly was for me. Om and Six Organs of Admittance also put out great albums but Blues Funeral is on another level.

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters