Album: Mark Lanegan Band, Blues Funeral (4AD)

5.00

 

Undoubtedly, the crowning culmination of Mark Lanegan's life's work, the darkly majestic Blues Funeral offers further evidence that, for an addict, there is never any freedom from addiction.

Though apparently now clean of his former heroin habit, Lanegan's songs here positively writhe with the lingering twitch of druggy desire, lyrically reflected in varying degrees of metaphorical imagery, from the relatively direct ("Lost on a violent sea/Gone for endless days") to the more elliptical, but still fairly obvious ("The moon don't smile on Saturday's child lying still in Elysian fields/ I don't know what the doctor he did, now I'm all day long with my body in bed"). It's been a constant theme throughout Lanegan's career, but this time it's found its most appropriate and satisfying setting, in the warm, enveloping arrangements created for the songs by Alain Johannes, with textured layers of synths, Mellotron and guitars swirling miasmically about Lanegan's smoky baritone.

Track after track finds the singer crippled with boredom, contemplating the miserable passage of days. In "Gray Goes Black", the bustling krautrock motorik evokes the inner restlessness as he confronts the stasis of the soul, "so insect I'm in amber". It's a torment likewise haunting "Leviathan", where "the hours crawl by like a spider/ hangman is following me". The wan, disjointed organ solo is like to a cork bobbing on the ocean, unable to control its course, and when the closing coda of "everyday a prayer for what I never know" comes cascading in round-style layers of harmony, it feels like a supportive twelve-step anthem to which he's desperately clinging.

Musically, it's the most accomplished of Lanegan's albums. "The Gravedigger's Song" opens proceedings with a lumbering but limber groove that evokes the galloping menace of apocalyptic horsemen, and Josh Homme helps bring a Gun Club flavour to the predatory fuzz-guitar groove and strident lead line of "Riot in My House". Heavier still is "Quiver Syndrome", with harsh, strident guitar chording over a thunderous caterpillar-track beat. At the other extreme, the classic blues flood motif of "Bleeding Muddy Water" is set to an oozing, sticky blend of shivering guitar and trembling keyboard.

"St Louis Elegy" features a similarly dark, throbbing undertow of low frequencies, with the slow shuffle of drum-machine like manacles on the soul as a fretful, earthbound Lanegan contemplates death from the skies. Comparative light relief comes in the centre of the album, with "Ode to Sad Disco" recalling Joy Division's "Atmosphere" – if that could be considered "light" – and the lovely, fatalistic melody of "Phantasmagoria Blues" floating on an oceanic miasma stippled with prickly percussion, a formula triumphantly reprised with added Mellotron and reversed guitars for the concluding "Tiny Grain of Truth". Taken as a whole, it's a marvellous piece of work, boasting a rare congruence between lyrical themes and musical evocations, and fronted by one of the most broodingly characterful voices in rock music.

DOWNLOAD THIS The Gravedigger's Song; Tiny Grain of Truth; Phantasmagoria Blues; Ode to Sad Disco; Leviathan

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence