Written Before Listen
First off, Rest In Peace Mark Lanegan. Only 2 months into 2022 and we’ve already lost Ronnie Spector, Meat Loaf, Betty Davis, and now Mark Lanegan. Let’s hope the rest of the year has fewer musician deaths. With this album, I’ve never listened to it. I haven’t listened to Mark Lanegan and I only know like 1 or 2 Screaming Trees songs. On the other hand, I think it’s about time to introduce myself to Mark Lanegan’s music so without further ado, let’s get into it.
Let’s start it off with the production of this record. Lanegan chooses a lot of unique instrumentation throughout this entire record. The guitars are distorted, the live drums are silky and the bass is brooding. I also like the addition of keyboards and drum machines to this record too as it brings a lot of uniqueness to the usual blues rock and alternative rock that is dabbled throughout this album. The opening track hints at what to expect with its groovy bassline, electronic chords, and linear song structure. The solos on tracks like “Wedding Dress”, “Head” and “Driving Death Valley Blues'' are distant but flavorful and the keyboard choices on “One Hundred Days”, “Strange Religion `` and''Head `` are perfect for the mood. Well played Mark and Co.
Mark Lanegan comes with a pretty unique style but the two features on this album made me realize the main influence for this album…PJ Harvey, especially the earlier PJ Harvey material. The mixture of 90s tropes and vintage blues-rock, punk, and experimental rock is pure PJ all the way. Mark Lanegan’s vocal delivery also reminds me of Tom Waits as well as some Iggy Pop. With those three musicians being three of my all-time favorites, it was easy to enjoy this record.
As a songwriter, Mark Lanegan digs less on topics and more on words. Once again, Mark Lanegan is inspired by PJ Harvey throughout this album and the songwriting is part of that. Along with that, Mark Lanegan is also a grunge legend so his songwriting roots go back to his times in Screaming Trees. He also shows himself to be a lover of music as he references songwriting legends like Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. You could argue that his songwriting is a little too formal or predictable but I think he does what fits best with each instrumental and vice versa.
This record in a nutshell is an alternative rock/singer-songwriter record with some bluesy undertones but multiple tracks venture out. The song “One Hundred Days” is a pure electric blues cut with organs, groovy bass, and laid-back drums but the following “Bombed” is a small folky track with fingerpicked guitars and a duet. The song “Sideways In Reverse” is an adrenaline-filled garage rock banger without any tension whatsoever. Even at the tail end of the album, we have the track “Driving Death Valley Blues” which is just pure uncut rock n roll music and sometimes there isn’t anything wrong with it.
I will tell you right now that every track hits one way or another. The mellow tracks are satisfying, the bangers are relentless, and everything in between works. On the other hand, I think every track stayed consistent. I wouldn’t say any of these tracks were perfect or anything, but I do think every track had a positive verdict on me.
Rest In Peace Mark Lanegan. I now know that he was a talented songwriter with good taste and an ear for music. He will be missed in the music community.