In 1996, American rock band Afghan Whigs dropped their fifth studio album, Black Love.
While the Ohio-based band wasn’t shy about incorporating edgier motifs into their music, Black Love took it a step further, exploring vocalist Greg Dulli’s obsession with murder and paranoia and tying it in to their sound. The result did not disappoint.
The band’s grunge aesthetic mixed with R&B and soul influences complimented the undeniably ark crime noire nature of the album.
The album opens up, much like an actual film noire, with a crime scene. “Crime Scene Part One” sets the scene for the rest of the album. An ambient calm rolls in with the beginning of the song, yet there’s a darkness hidden beneath the chime.
One can almost hear the wind blow right before the guitar and vocals roll in. Dulli sings of evil and secrets with passion, as the melody carries a deceptively light feel.
“Blame, Etc” carries a seductive edge, opening with a literal purr and a groovy guitar part. There’s a tribal element to the beat that gets the heart pounding even before the lyrics kick in. Speaking of the lyrics, they’re just as hot as the setup would lead you to believe. This is a song about desire, and maybe something darker:
“My skin catches fire at the
Mention of your name
No matter what I tried to do
I could not lose it”
“Honky’s Ladder” opens with a bang! Screaming guitar, a solid beat, and seriously crazy energy makes this song a must-hear. The only song on the album to make liberal used of the f-word, there’s a certain edge that just works with the pure rock n’ roll nature of this jam.
“Faded” fades in with a sound akin to singing train tracks right before an ethereal piano. There’s a sorrow to this song as a soft choir makes themselves known.
Dulli speaks, and a melodic guitar kicks in with a beautiful violin part. The vocals are soft and airy, giving this tune a warm feeling. A stark contrast to some of the more intense songs on the album in the best possible way, “Faded” is nothing short of lovely.
While Afghan Whigs did break up for a time in 2001, they have since regrouped and are still making music today. While their sound is ever-evolving, Black Love will always be a staple true fans can come back to time and time again.