The Afghan Whigs Do to the Beast

The Afghan WhigsDo to the Beast
Expectations for reunion albums can be a killer, but the Afghan Whigs manage to slay that dragon nicely on Do to the Beast. Opener "Parked Outside" plays lean and mean with a spacious and bluesy guitar crunch, Dulli's smoky and throat-straining cries running hard on the first of many heartbreakers with a desperate "You're gonna make me break down and cry." "It Kills," an early stunner built around elegiac piano fingering and a doom-tinged mellotron and guitar arrangement, comes with Dulli's crushing "It kills to watch you love another" before guest Van Hunt steals the show with a soul-stirring falsetto display.

The eclectic LP goes rustic on the spaghetti western-styled "Algiers," snapping into place Morricone-style with unplugged six-string strums, castanet clacks and more. Elsewhere, a sullen Dulli stares into the city lights for the late night driving tune "Can Rova," sounding as if he's getting closer to the action as the track heads from the spare pump of a harmonium and mellow guitar atmospherics into a full-on Ibiza-style house-pop explosion.

The album's experiments, which employ the talents of soundscaper Mark McGuire and guitarist Johnny "Natural" Najera, help set apart the tracks from past work, though the ghost of the '90s still crunches along on more rock-centred songs like "Royal Cream" and "The Lottery." That said, the record is just playing true to form for the veterans, proving that the beast is back with teeth bared and a few more tricks up its hairy sleeves. (Sub Pop)