Highlights: Matamoros, Algiers, Lost In The Woods, These Sticks
I have to say that listening to this album after Ultraviolence is like being suddenly injected with a huge dose of oxygen. It’s like being alive again. Let’s celebrate life.
But there’s a paradox. On the one hand, I can’t say Do To The Beast has serious claims to being the Afghan Whigs’ best album. After all, does it really beat Gentlemen? On the other hand, I don’t believe that Greg Dulli is physically capable of writing a better collection of songs. Do To The Beast is all you could ask for, now or in 1993.
Each one of these ten songs is a winner: nuanced, emotional, intense. Do To The Beast is what you would call a comeback with a vengeance. Still, however consistent the whole thing is, “Matamoros” is something else. It’s the shortest song here, clocking in at 2:43, but what a punch it packs. The urgent funky groove, the flashy guitar line, the chorus reeking of style and appeal, and (as if that wasn’t enough) there’s also a brilliant Eastern-flavoured violin solo that will make you want to hang this track on a museum wall. And that’s just one highlight. Elsewhere, they do beautifully rough piano-based slow-burners (“Lost In The Woods”), convincing screamers (“Parked Outside”) and throw in the kind of epoch-defining riffs that are almost too good for 2014 (“The Lottery”). Not to mention the closing 6-minute epic “These Sticks” that has a build-up to kill for.
I never thought The Afghan Whigs were the best band in the world and Do To The Beast is not a masterpiece, but… from its inventive arrangements to Greg’s has-he-really-been-away vocals and melodies, this album is a quiet triumph.