The sixth solo record from Mark Lanegan, the dusky-voiced former singer of the Screaming Trees, sounds ripped from the darkest recesses of the human psyche. Murky psychedelic rock songs down a few rounds of bitter whiskey on "Head" and "Sideways in Reverse," while the Grim Reaper stops by for a nightcap on the Velvet Underground-sighing of "Strange Religion."
Bubblegum also features contributions from Afghan Whig/Twilight Singer Greg Dulli, Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme, and PJ Harvey, who brings the tortured bluster on the white-hot sleaze of "Hit the City." Instead of overwhelming the songs, however, these collaborations contribute mightily to the disc's dark textures -- like the grinding factory clanks driving the sweaty standout "Methamphetamine Blues" -- and underscore Lanegan's similarities to Tom Waits. And although the middle of the disc lags in places, Bubblegum's bookends make up for any shortcomings: "When Your Number Is Up" creaks with Low-era Bowie creepiness, and "Out of Nowhere" is a fitting epitaph, filled with skeletal piano that sounds at once fatal and hopeful.
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