Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Gutter Twins - Cross Your Fingers And Make Amends

After years of singing about self-destructive habits, illicit sex, and setting things on fire, it's difficult to imagine Greg Dulli as having any Catholic guilt left to spend, but you don't even have to listen to the songs on Saturnalia to see where the album finds its center. Song titles such as "Idle Hands," "God's Children," and "The Stations," (as in, the stations of the cross) reveal a great deal about what is on Dulli's mind these days. If it's difficult to tell whether he's reveling in, or simply revealing his own dark, personal experiences with these high-minded concepts, that's likely because the former altar boy isn't quite sure himself.

But this is hardly a one-man show. The Gutter Twins is a project born out of the cigarette ashes of The Twilight Singers, with whom Mark Lanegan (former Screaming Trees singer) was an occasional guest, and he is in full form here. While the gravelly and grave-like vocalizations of this co-conspirator might at first seem at odds with Dulli's plaintive wails, experiencing the album in full reads like some impressionistic life-study set in Dante's Inferno, with our plucky pair of anti-heroes shooting for the first circle but pretty much having run of the whole joint. Lanegan's own lethargic menacing might imply that he's more comfortable with the idea of reigning in Hell rather than serving in Heaven, but it's worth remembering that the album is named after the Roman holiday of Saturnalia, in which the servants and the masters reverse their roles for a brief moment in time. Just for the laugh, of course.

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