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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Mark Lanegan
Bubblegum
Beggars Banquet

Rating: 10/10 ?


July 30, 2004
You know those annoying elitists who claim that no record deserves a perfect score, who posit that true perfection is unattainable and instead dish out 9.9s out of 10 or 4.5s out 5? You know, those critics who can never go the extra mile and award even a favorite of theirs a perfect score? Mark Lanegan's Bubblegum may just be the album that breaks those stubborn wills and forces them to max out their ledger. I'm talking 5.0s, 10 of 10s, 100 percents, A-plus-plusses.

Musically, Bubblegum is unlike anything Lanegan's ever done, not during his alternative folk solo albums, nor during the psychedelic grunge years with Screaming Trees or even the hard rocking tenure with Queens of the Stone Age. Instead, Lanegan strikes out over unfamiliar ground, opting for a more electronic sound on some pieces, and others diving into boozy bar rock territory. But Bubblegum's songs don't sidle up to the end of the bar where the happy-go-luckys are having a good time. Instead, they opt for the other end, down by the flimsy slatted door that leads to the urinals, where the stinging smell of piss cakes wafts over the initials and gang signs carved into the wood and down the pile of cigarette butts and beef jerky wrappers on the floor. They perch with the losers, the down-and-outs, pouring a round for their comrades in the only place they could consider home, in a place where the only goal is to drink until the blackness, surrounded by clouds of Marlboro gray, the bloodshot wire of methamphetamines, and despair.

Highlights? Where to start? All the tracks are standouts themselves, although a few do deserve mention above the rest. Take for instance the opener, "When Your Number Isn't Up," which is perfectly titled, Lanegan lamenting over why one just can't put themselves out of their own misery. "Did you call for the night porter, smell the blood, blood running warm? Well I'll be waiting at this frozen border, so close you can hit it with a stone," he bellows, seemingly playing the angel of death and nailing the performance, from the lyrics to his raspy vocals (which have never sounded better).

"One Hundred Days" is the catchiest track on of the bunch, a number that will find even the bitter elitists singing the drug ridden chorus more than might be healthy (helped by Josh Homme, go figure).

PJ Harvey helps out on two tracks here, "Come to Me," a relentless love song, and "Hit That City," one of the rockier numbers on the album. Don't let the other guest appearances of Guns & Roses primaries Duff McKagen and Izzy Stradlin worry you, the two are in the background of "Strange Religion" so much that they are barely noticeable.

Bubblegum closes with the appropriate "Out of Nowhere," a folk song of distinctly Laneganesque flavor but with a Spanish influence. "As so it begins so too it ends," it is the counterpart to "When Your Number Isn't Up," but only in its bleaker atmosphere.

Easily Mark Lanegan's strongest work to date, and equally so one of the strongest albums of the year, Bubblegum plays like a concept album, but with a vagueness that belies such an intent. Conceptually planned or not, this is one for the books.

Reviewed by Joe Jarvis
No biographical information available.

See other reviews by Joe Jarvis

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