How Do You Burn?

The Afghan Whigs

The Afghan Whigs in Cincinnati have always been outliers in their own way. Coming up during the alt-rock & grunge boom during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Greg Dulli and the rest of the band separated themselves by embracing R&B and soul.

This approach was unique for its time when their contemporaries were leaning towards punk and/or heavy metal, but they made it work. Since that time until their breakup in 2001 and after their reunion in 2012, going against the grain of what everyone else is doing has consistently been the band’s hallmark. Another example of this is their ninth album How Do You Burn? that’s due out via both Dulli’s label Royal Cream Records and BMG on September 9.

There’s a nice balance of hard-hitting, raucous tracks and emotional, poetic ballads within the album. A good number of collaborators are involved, including the late Mark Lanegan.  Christopher Thorn also served as a co-producer with Dulli along with being an official member of the band on guitar. The different artists involved give How Do You Burn? a multidimensional vibe with a lot going on within the highly concentrated structures of the songs. There’s a case to be made that this is the best post-reunion album from the band so far because of everything I just mentioned.

“I’ll Make You See God” starts the album off like a lit stick of dynamite with the guitars and drums bringing unbridled energy. Those B-3 keys in “Please, Baby, Please” are simply pristine with Dulli singing in a way that mirrors Elvis Costello. It’s a great example of a ballad countering the riff-fueled tracks. Mays has a major presence in “Domino + Jimmy” with the piano coming in at a different key while maintaining the emotion of the other ballads. Other notable songs within How Do You Burn? include “Catch A Colt”, “A Line Of Shots” and “Take Me There”.

This new release from The Afghan Whigs exudes a variety of musical approaches while having a cohesive tone. The messages and aesthetics being put forth through the songs are consistent with each other. With this being said, each song has the ability to stand on its own and there’s no nonsense and no filler within this album. That’s a quality to be admired and it’ll reveal itself to whoever decides to give it a listen. I highly suggest whoever reads this review does so because it’ll provide an excellent sonic experience for the senses.

Pre order How Do You Burn by The Afghan Whigs HERE


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