At first you might think Lanegan’s tenth solo album, Gargoyle, picks up where 2014’s Phantom Radio left off. You can hear the dark influence of Krautrock in the basslines and the synths of both album opener Death’s Head Tattoo and Nocturne, albeit shot through on the latter with the kind of guitar noise more familiar to fans of Screaming Trees.
And then we get to Beehive, one of the most vital, urgent and immediate songs he’s ever done. This is the kind of song you play over and over and over again. 'Everywhere I look it’s a bummer,' Lanegan sings – looking round at the world, he’s pretty bang on the money – and then he’s dazzled by electric storms and being stung.
From here, we get Emperor, a quirky upbeat Brit invasion tune that harks back to Lanegan's work with Belle & Sebastian chanteuse Isobel Campbell in the early noughties. Goodbye to Beauty is a supremely pretty ballad (you could imagine it being covered by The Blue Nile’s Paul Buchanan); Drunk on Destruction (Lanegan mashes up a bit of rock drum and bass to stunning effect), First Day of Winter, Old Swan – every track is a smasher.
He’s working with previous collaborators – former Glitter Twin (and current Afghan Whig) Greg Dulli, Queen of the Stone Age's Josh Homme, Duke Garwood and Rob Marshall, whose band Exit Calm supported Lanegan when he was part of the Soulsavers – but really all you need to know is that he sounds reinvigorated. Gargoyle kicks massive ass; here are ten songs you won’t be able to hear enough. Just about essential.
Listen to: Beehive, Drunk on Destruction, Old Swan
Buy Mark Lanegan Band - Gargoyle on LP/CD from Norman Records