The Gutter Twins – Saturnalia

Sub Pop

Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan despite their recent return to favour (Lanegan’s album-length duet with ex-Belle & Sebastian paramour Isobel Campbell on Ballad of the Broken Seas in particular) have never quite moved on from their joint ’90s heyday.

While Dulli’s Afghan Whigs were jumping head-first into testosterone-driven soul rock (most effectively on the brilliant Black Love ) Lanegan’s Screaming Trees were busy playing second fiddle to all the other Seattle bands who’d left them in the dust. Saturnalia the pair’s first album together as The Gutter Twins feels like a perfunctory exercise in looking back. It’s as though Sub Pop felt it had no choice but to get behind it given the label’s attachment to both Dulli and Lanegan in the past. Now that the biggest names in the Seattle explosion are either dead or Eddie Vedder Saturnalia emerges as an accidental state of the nation of an entire scene mostly forgotten.

Anguish and atmosphere? Check. Gruff vocals and howls? Yep. Great songs and arrangements? Not really. Anything worth much more than a third listen? Nope couldn’t find it. In the day and age of piss-poor Seattle imitators topping the charts and stuffing stadiums the most unfortunate thing about The Gutter Twins is how the enterprise just comes off as an empty attempt at a highbrow Nickelback. Which I guess if we’re talking about where Seattle got us in the first place is a pretty lame place to end up.