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Mark Lanegan Band - Phantom Radio (Album Review)

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 Written by Gavin Rees

To describe Mark Lanegan as a musical magpie is a little reductive, but it’s true that the former Screaming Trees man has an uncanny ability to inhabit different styles, invariably without losing the essence of his weathered, world-weary voice.

‘Phantom Radio’, his latest with the Mark Lanegan Band, is a close ally of ‘Blues Funeral’ and again finds him experimenting with electronic textures, drum machines - partly through the use of an app, FunkBox - and washes of keyboards.

The music that creeps into his life also creeps into his work, with ‘Phantom Radio’ combining elements of mid-’90s pop, a few Primal Screamisms and the Krautrock edge of ‘Blues Funeral’. As he recently told the Quietus: “You can't create music in a vacuum.”

Lanegan’s skill, though, is to take these pieces and assemble a whole that’s characteristically his; enigmatic, dripping with menace and reinforced by evocative imagery.

Amid the synth workouts, I Am The Wolf and Torn Red Heart are the album’s anchors, allowing Lanegan to display his streak of damaged romanticism. On the latter, perhaps the record’s most beautiful moment, he admits: “You don’t love me. What’s to love anyway?”

Judgement Time is similarly bruising as it pulls in his fondness for religious imagery, his brooding baritone recounting a dreamscape of destruction, while The Wild People has a pastoral quality despite its death-dealing words. Both are rooted in the mystique of Lanegan himself, that cracked charisma still outweighing any new technical or stylistic touches.

Much like his most recent covers collection - ‘Imitations’ - ‘Phantom Radio’ demonstrates further Lanegan’s ability to play the chameleon without compromising the qualities that have made him one of the most magnetic figures in alternative music for the best part of 30 years. It’s not his very best work, but it’s a fine record all the same.

Mark Lanegan Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu January 15 2015 - GALWAY Seapoint
Fri January 16 2015 - BELFAST Limelight
Sat January 17 2015 - DUBLIN Academy
Tue January 20 2015 - GLASGOW O2 ABC
Wed January 21 2015 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Riverside
Thu January 22 2015 - LEEDS Met
Fri January 23 2015 - MANCHESTER Ritz
Mon January 26 2015 - BIRMINGHAM Institute
Tue January 27 2015 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Wed January 28 2015 - LONDON O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
Thu January 29 2015 - PORTSMOUTH Pyramids

Click here to compare & buy Mark Lanegan Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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