The Twilight Singers
Powder Burns (One Little Indian)
by Tim Den
In a recent interview with The Onion, The Twilight Singers guitarist/vocalist Greg Dulli revealed that Powder Burns is the first album that he’s ever recorded stone sober. It’s not surprising, then, that it bursts with all sorts of Technicolor, panoramic emotions and bombast, the kinds of over-the-top purging that perhaps his years of alcohol and drug abuse numbed and suppressed until now. So if you thought the clench-fisted soulfulness of Blackberry Belle was intense, just imagine what awaits you here. Every trait of Dulli’s has awoken from their substance-induced slumber, exploding and propelling themselves all over the songs, yet somehow (because Greg Dulli is never tacky, always tasteful) staying firmly within the lines of good taste (unlike immature emo boys who can gush plenty, but have no idea how to refine it).
The declaration comes early: Opener “I’m Ready” pretty much says it all. When Dulli sings “I’m ready to love somebody,” it’s as if that “somebody” could be himself, the world, the unknown that is the rest of his (hopefully) sober life, everything. Accompanied by a punchy rhythm that’s as mechanically forceful as it is groovy, “I’m Ready” sets the tone for the rest of the album. From then on, the sonic palette/mood is set, as Powder Burns unfurls more cohesively than any of The Twilight Singers’ previous efforts. While this made the album less memorable upon first listen – many of the songs utilize the same quiet verse/loud chorus attack – any doubts quickly vanish as every entry proves its might with repeat visits. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more torturous howl than on “There’s Been an Accident” and “Underneath the Waves,” a more delicate-than-ever Dulli than on “The Conversation,” or a more gunshot-like crescendo than on closer “I Wish I Was” (guitar-left starts with crackling noise… then BAM!). That Dulli’s sense of impeccable melody leads the charge only empowers everything that much more. This is dark, forceful ROCK that reeks of nighttime’s ugly side.
Powder Burns is a bullet train of haunting demons and the man’s newfound redemption. Don’t let it hit you unless you want to be dragged under the rails ’til the very last stop.