Afghan Whigs – In Spades (Sub Pop)

Genre – Rock

After over 30 years in the game, The Afghan Whigs return with In Spades, their eighth album to boot, and one that is defined only by ‘its own mystical inner logic.’

1998 saw the band split and stay away from music for 16 years, but the Cincinnati six piece made a triumphant return in 2014 with Do To The Beast, as they explored a range of sounds from psychedelic soul symphonies to punk, grunge and the expansive hard rock tapestries of Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

In Spades sees The Afghan Whigs continue to explore, leading to an album that is mind-blowingly good in places, and utterly bizarre in others. This swinging pendulum starts on the bizarre end with high pitched opener Birdland, that sees some truly horrible ear aching sounds take any ounce of listenability away from Greg Duli’s raspy vocals.

Arabian Heights sees the album take a much improved new direction, with an upbeat, drum driven melody, filled with big dancy riffs and a bass guitar that links everything together and controls the tempo – think Kasabian meets Hurts.

This energetic, dancy style is reversed with Toy Automatic, making for a vastly different approach to this album that is seemingly devoid of any real direction. While the track is good, and is filled with potential, Greg Duli has experimented with voice changing software, or sang through a medium to alter his usual style, making for an odd number that never really takes off.

Then like a flash, the energy returns with Copernicus, which brings a mix of simple riffs, lyrics and drum patterns together with Duli’s big vocals to create a fist pumping rock song that was born for the stage. While this track is an undoubted stand out, it’s a far cry from its neighbouring tracks and once again brings into question the direction of In Spades.

The Afghan Whigs fans are used to experimentation. In fact they adore it. The problem is the experimentation on In Spades doesn’t seem to go anywhere, despite the quality of individual tracks such as Light As A Feather and I Got Lost, meaning this is yet another album were The Afghan Whigs have failed to nail down ‘their’ sound.

RUSHONROCK RATED – 6/10 Will The Afghan Whigs ever find their true identity?