Hello From The Gutter!
With a moniker evocative of their aesthetic, The Gutter Twins finally arrive with their long-rumored debut Saturnalia. Their respective original bands The Afghan Whigs and Screaming Trees long disbanded, Greg Dulli has devoted his energies to The Twilight Singers while Mark Lanegan has jumped from one-off to one-off, working with Queens of the Stone Age, Isobel Campbell and Soulsavers. Here together, these two friends lean heavily towards a darker motif, one that emanates thorough experience with the dark end of the street and lessons learned treading the beaten path.
Idle Hands opens with a pronounced note from Lanegan’s lower register rattling like a bass boom from a massive subwoofer, driven primarily by an eerie Mellotron melody before Dulli joins in on the chorus. And while there are a fair number of songs using the duo’s harmonization, smartly each vocalist comes to the forefront for an equal share of tunes allowing the best of each voice’s intonation to ring through.
Dulli leads first on “God’s Children” and “The Body,” his voice floating dreamily above a harmonium drone on the former and resonating crisply on the latter. Lanegan’s signature baritone grumble marks “The Stations” and “All Misery/Flowers,” tumbling through progressive syllables on both against a plucked clean electric guitar riff.
“Who Will Lead Us” taps its way forward with acoustic guitars balancing the vocals with a country twang, before a distorted guitar brings in menacing ambience. The lyric “What’s left is a shadow of it all” announces “Bete Noire,” segueing into a crash of cymbals and a beautiful Rhodes piano which then slither their way through the remainder.
Although dark, Saturnalia is far from moribund. “Circle the Fringes” rocks with bounding bass, “Each to Each” flourishes with drum programming and synthesizer sequencing, and “Front Street” mounts epic tension layering in instruments over an acoustic melody until both singers begin to fade out repeating, “We’re gonna have some fun, son.” Captivating and thought-provoking, Saturnalia is a must-own for any Dulli or Lanegan fan.