Mark Lanegan Band - Bubblegum [Beggars Banquet - 2004]Hot on the heels of the odds and sods e.p. called Here Comes that Weird Chill, Mark Lanegan finally "hits the city" with his latest full length gem entitled Bubblegum.
The title could be a bit misleading as its not the sickly sweet, sugary pop album full of songs about beautiful sunrises, pretty flowers and the giddiness of newlyweds, to the contrary its more about being chewed up and spit out, being walked all over, being stretched in five different directions at once, and possibly indirectly about how the music biz can hype and inflate you into something your not and promptly burst your bubble when you are no longer economically viable.
As with the e.p, the cast of characters involved in this project is staggering. Polly Jean Harvey contributes to the rocker Hit the City and the absolutely beautiful Come to Me, fellow and ex Queenies Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri, ex Guns and Roses Duff McKagen and Izzy Stradlin, former Afghan Wigs mastermind and current Twilight Singers crooner Greg Dulli, Troy Van Leeuwen (A Perfect Circle), Joey Castillo (Danzig), Aldo Struyf (Millionaires), Alain Johannes (Eleven), are brought in to accentuate and possibly streamline the already brilliant tracks presented here today and give the project a Desert Sessions type of vibe.
Initially I wanted to review this album on the day it was released, but decided to wait a good three months to see if my initial impressions still held true and see if it still made the occasional trip into my cd player. The answer is an emphatic YES; as I still spin this disc every couple of days almost 4 months after it was released. Musically its a bit more subdued than the weird chill ep which was initially disappointing, but over time I have come to realize how focused and cohesive it truly is and how the songs (with the exception of one minor turd smack dab in the middle) flow together beautifully. If you put a gun to my head and asked me for standouts, I would have to say the eerie vibe of Wedding Dress sung as a duet curiously enough with ex-wife Wendy Rae Fowler, the urgency and oddly metered Can't Come Down, the down home blues of Like Little Willy John, sleazy rockers Methamphetamine Blues and Hit the City, the absolutely beautiful Come to Me, the hopelessness of Bombed and When Your Number Isn't Up, the drug addled Driving Death Valley Blues, the swagger of Head, and the hope and redemption of 100 Days and Morning Glory Wine and the finale Out of Nowhere make for a damn near perfect album.
Armed with a fresh pack of Marlboros, a kick ass world tour under their belt, a hot new backing band, his contributions to the new Queens of the Stone Age, his new project with Greg Dulli dubbed The Gutter Twins (which is tongue in cheekly described as the satanic Everly Brothers), a lost Screaming Trees disc which should see the light of day via Josh Hommes label AntAcid and a new album from the Mark Lanegan Band, 2005 should be even greater....but he will have his work cut out for himself as Bubblegum is truly a great, great album that should be owned by even the most cursory of fans, as this is truly his most moving effort since Whiskey for the Holy Ghost and I daresay his best.