We have a fascination with the dark side. We cheer for the hero, but we love the villain. We want Luke Skywalker to win, but we think Darth Vader is more interesting. Who looks like they are having more fun: Clarice or Hannibal? It’s where we get to see the fun side of drugs, depravity, hedonism, cruelty, sexuality, and menace. The dark side is a place most of us will only experience as spectators. There is a rush from the voyeuristic thrill of movies and villains. Enter Mark Lanegan Band’s Bubblegum.
Bubblegum draws its title from the song “Bombed” (“When I’m bombed, I stretch like bubblegum…”), and it is filled with addiction references, failed relationships, and despair. What it is not is an album that sounds like his previous solo outings. Where they were mostly acoustic and stripped down, Bubblegum is a heavier, denser album. Lanegan collaborated with Queens of the Stone Age on their Songs for the Deaf album between the release of Field Songs and Bubblegum, and this seems to have inspired him to reach back to his days as the lead singer of Screaming Trees.
1. When Your Number Isn’t Up – This one would have felt right at home on I’ll Take Care of You. It’s a song that Johnny Cash would have recorded with Rick Rubin had he lived just a little bit longer. Haunting organs and murky synthesizers are the somber backdrop for a creepy Lanegan lyric delivered in his patented low growl.
2. Hit The City – The first of two duets with PJ Harvey. Any song that opens with a line like, “Dark descends through the promised land” is going to be a good one. Fuzzy bass and guitars are anchored by a cool groove- great duet.