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Gentlemen
     

Gentlemen

4.0 2
by The Afghan Whigs
 

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The Afghan Whigs' sound was growing larger by the release during the days on Sub Pop, so the fact that Gentlemen turned out the way it did wasn't all that surprising as a result ("cinematic" was certainly the word the band was aiming for, what with credits describing the recording process as being "shot on location" at Ardent

Overview

The Afghan Whigs' sound was growing larger by the release during the days on Sub Pop, so the fact that Gentlemen turned out the way it did wasn't all that surprising as a result ("cinematic" was certainly the word the band was aiming for, what with credits describing the recording process as being "shot on location" at Ardent Studios). While Gentlemen is no monolith, it is very much of a piece at the start. While "If I Were Going" opens things on a slightly moodier tip, it's the crunch of "Gentlemen," "Be Sweet," and "Debonair" that really stands out, each of which features a tightly wound R&B punch that rocks out as much as it grooves, if not more so. Greg Dulli's lyrics immediately set about the task of emotional self-evisceration at the same time, with lines like "Ladies, let me tell you about myself -- I got a dick for a brain" being among the calmer points. The album truly comes into its own with "When We Two Parted," though, as sad countryish guitars chime over a slow crawling rhythm and Dulli's quiet-then-anguished detailing of an exploding relationship. From there on in, things surge from strength to greater strength, sometimes due to the subtlest of touches -- the string arrangement on "Fountain and Fairfax" or the unexpected, resigned lead vocal from Scrawl's Marcy Mays on "My Curse," for instance. Other times, it's all the much more upfront, as "What Jail Is Like," with its heartbroken-and-fierce combination of piano, feedback, and drive building to an explosive chorus. Dulli's blend of utter abnegation and masculine swagger may be a crutch, but when everything connects, as it does more often than not on Gentlemen, both he and his band are unstoppable.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/05/1993
Label:
Elektra / Wea
UPC:
0075596150125
catalogNumber:
61501
Rank:
58508

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Gentlemen 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Afghan Whigs always were on the cooler fringe of the outsiders clique - the A/V nerds in high school who got high in the parking lot listening to the Stones. Being on the outside gave the Whigs space to experiement with their sound, going from run-of-the-mill Sub-Pop grunge to, at the end of their career, a soul-rock hybrid having just as much to do with the Four Tops as with the Replacements. At their apex, both soul and rock merged into a seamless series of songs collected on Gentlemen. The first seconds of If I Were Going, a sublimated drum beat with an industrial whir going full-tilt, you can tell the music will not follow in the Seattle soft-loud-soft pattern. Lead singer Greg Dulli, emerging from a breakup and a breakdown, has written a batch of songs so dark and brooding, it's hard to listen to them at first. With repeated listens, though, minor elements weaved within the music come to light - lyrical repetitions, a three-note melody found in about half the songs, song sequencing that ties each section of the narrative together. In the end, the emotional impact of such a gut-wrenching journey through a man's bleeding heart is almost equivalent to Dante's journey through the levels of Hell. One song - My Curse - is so thorough in its depiction of empty love and empty sex that Dulli could not bring himself to sing it on the album, deferring instead to Marcy Mays of Scrawl. After a good half-hour of a male-driven catalogue of bad feelings and worse hangovers, to hear a woman iterate a song about a blowjob of mercy is stunning. No album during the 90's ever laid its soul on the line like this one, and no other, with the possible exception of Pet Sounds, ever made such a stand for the inherent beauty of the shadows that come at the end of every sunny day.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago