THE GRADE A
BOTTOM LINE Harnessing their reunion energy into a new indie-rock classic
When the Afghan Whigs reunited for “Do to the Beast” in 2014, it was a surprise to hear how good the alt-rock pioneers sounded together after 16 years apart. With their follow-up, “In Spades” (Sub Pop), they are ready to be great again.
The opener, “Birdland,” announces the band’s intentions, with Greg Dulli jazzily singing of his youth over spare synthesizer blasts, showing the vocal tenderness he cultivated with his solo material and his bands Twilight Singers and Gutter Twins paired with new sounds.
“Arabian Nights” follows that by showing how much more intense the classic Whigs sound is today, with the muscular rhythm section of bassist John Curley and drummer Patrick Keeler ratcheting up the energy at every turn, while guitarists Dave Rosser and Jon Skibic generate rock atmospherics to take Dulli’s fiery vocals to the next level.
The rhythmic intricacies of “Toy Automatic” and interwoven melodies from the guitar players and a horn section nicely balance Dulli’s minimalist lyrics, while the mammoth, classic Whigs rocker “Into the Floor,” cements not only one of the best albums of the year, but one of the best albums in the mighty Whigs catalog.