Whether recounting tales as a self-styled lothario or providing sinister depictions of drug addiction and unsteady relationships, Greg Dulli’s work has always aimed to provoke. It should come as no surprise, then, that In Spades – The Afghan Whigs’ second album since their 2011 re-formation – traverses evocative concepts such as mortality and the supernatural while, naturally, throwing in a bit of trademark sleaze.
The band remain focused on the brooding rhythms and haunting melodies established on predecessor Do To The Beast. Album highlight Toy Automatic – which Dulli dubs the album’s “favourite child” – fills the absence of founding guitarist Rick McCollum with acoustic guitar and gentle, melancholic horns. Copernicus, with its roaring chorus and stripped-down guitar hooks, invokes shades of the ferocious Whigs of old.
The resulting sound is mature and measured, with similarities to Dulli’s work with the Twilight Singers more easily applicable than anything in Whigs essentials Congregation or Gentleman. Will In Spades go down as a Whigs classic? Perhaps not, but it’s clear from this set that they remain a renewed force, still able to surprise and stir.