The Afghan Whigs – In Spades
With In Spades, the second post-reformation album from the cult 90s legends, The Afghan Whigs in many ways sound like a completely different band. The raw angsty sound of their youth that adorned classic albums like Gentlemen has given way to a more mature and refined output. All of that energy and passion has not simply disappeared, it instead manifests itself in new forms, producing one of the most diverse, experimental and accessible albums of their career. Very few of their contemporaries can say that they have released an album of this calibre at such a late point in their history. The level of musicianship here is a new high point for the band and their latest genre-hopping record contains some of the most unique and thrilling soundscapes of 2017.
Opening track ‘Birdland’ features some ingenious mellotron work to create an elegant orchestral atmosphere, while the Eastern tinged ‘Arabian Heights’ packs more sinister and mystifying riffs into 5 minutes than I thought possible. The all too brief ‘Toy Automatic’ brings together both strings and brass to create the album’s most powerful and emotive moment, ‘Copernicus’ features some fuzzy T Rex-esque guitar work, and ‘Light As A Feather’ has some attention-grabbing snippets of funk. In Spades‘ greatest gift however is it’s final two tracks. ‘I Got Lost’ is The Afghan Whigs at their most welcoming and uplifting, while the slow building tension and final hair-raising release of ‘Into The Floor’ ends the record on a high. It doesn’t quite earn the title of “classic album”, but the band have remained dignified and unpredictable when so many others fade and falter.