Gutter Twins

(Sub Pop 2008) Gutter Twins - Saturnalia

Perhaps no duo makes more sense than Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan, as anyone who has seen or heard Lanegan with The Twilight Singers in the last few years can attest. But on a project that firmly belongs to both men, The Gutter Twins is a ghostly amalgamation that effortlessly melds their styles on "Saturnalia," their debut release. Dulli: the touches of drama and the effortless energy; Lanegan: the understated grace and the careful introspection.

From the first moments of "Saturnalia," music swells. "The Stations" builds to its fullness while distinctly avoiding sounding like a typical duet of any kind. The Gutter Twins put a twist on rock with "Idle Hands" as it comes booming in and lets you know just who is in charge here (and it sure as hell isn't you). The soft acoustics of "Front Street" set a dreamy pace that feels timeless and then disappointingly temporary as it ends just as it peaks. The whining, whirling drone "All Misery/Flowers" creeps along, slowly winding itself around you as it edges to the point of asphyxiation as Lanegan sings, "I told you my story so that you might save me." "I Am The Walrus" style strings give a touch of the surreal to pounding drums as Dulli commands on "I Was in Love with You."

"Saturnalia" is a tough nut to crack. It is one that takes at least a half dozen listens before it starts to make any clear sense. Songs that at first might seem like filler quickly transform themselves into loose, bluesy jams and world weary reflections set to buzzing instrumentation. The duo is like a sadistic pharmacist, gladly offering just enough to get you hooked and then leaving you hanging once the drug has taken effect. To be sure, the Gutter Twins' "Saturnalia" is one intriguing pill.


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