On his seventh solo release, former Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan retreats even further into his whiskey addled death trip, making "Blues Funeral" his most haunting, and also his most off-putting album yet.
"Muddy water be my grave / You are the master, I've been the slave/You know I feel you in my iron lung," Lanegan sings, and it's immediately obvious what's in store.
Sparse instrumentation and lover's lament are Lanegan's tricks of the trade for these solo releases. If it's almost hard to picture him as the "Nearly Lost You" one-hit-wonder from 120 minutes, it's damn near impossible to think of him as one half of "Gutter Twins", his Greg Dulli assisted side project. Why he releases his saddest, darkest and often weakest work under his own name is anyone's guess, but it's a given that these songs wouldn't be caught dead near a Queens of the Stone Age record.
Where it gets interesting is where Lanegan veers away from the script. "See all the lonely children lose their minds," he sings on "Ode to Sad Disco", which is one of a few outside-the-box songs here. The song splits the difference between Depeche Mode and Nick Drake, and the bleating synth pulses lend it a fair bit of street cred.
"Quiver Syndrome" is another standout. It's sort of an updated take on the Rolling Stones classic "Sympathy for the Devil", but it's far from pastiche. The sinister tone wouldn't be out of place on a "Nuggets" box set.
All things considered, "Blues Funeral" is another forgettable release from a somehow unforgettable artist. Mark Lanegan just needs to let go of his more tiring obsessions. Don't we all?