Mark Lanegan Band - Somebody’s Knocking (Heavenly Recordings, 2019)
Mark Lanegan is an American singer and songwriter who started out with the rock group Screaming Trees. He later collaborated with Queens Of The Stone Age, Isobel Campbell and many other bands and musicians.
From the opening bars of Disbelief Suspension onwards, it’s clear that Somebody’s Knocking is an album made by someone deeply obsessed with how music – with all its primal, spiritual healing power – truly penetrates the soul. As a result, there’s joy in the music, as if created from a perfect set of inspirations smashed and grabbed from God’s own record shop.
Some of the influences are oblique, others direct and fully respectful. From the Raw Power-esque garage metal grind of that opener to Letter Never Sent’s rocket-powered take on Love-era kaleidoscope-psych, through the pensive subterranean murk of Dark Disco Jag and on to Playing Nero’s sun-bleached riff on Joy Division’s Atmosphere, there’s the glee of infatuation running deep in the tracks. And, in some ways, that display of infatuation serves to change the very perception of Lanegan the artist – this album being less the tale of a brooding, crepuscular rock’n’roll veteran and more that of someone consumed by a lifelong love of words and sound fused together.
With that perception shift in mind, one of the most remarkable moments on Somebody’s Knockingis Penthouse High – a track that positively blooms, sounding like a love letter to imperial phase New Order. For Lanegan, it signals a return to one of his formative musical loves from a time even before he joined Screaming Trees.
Although Somebody’s Knocking came together in an 11 day session in L.A. (Lanegan’s hometown of the last 22 years), many of the deepest musical influences on the record are European – be they the aforementioned electronic artists or newer, murkier forms provided by writing partners Martin Jenkins (who records as Pye Corner Audio) or Rob Marshall – a collaborator on Gargoyle and on his own, forthcoming debut album as Humanist. In each case, Lanegan approached working with each of the writers from the perspective of a fan.
Somebody’s Knocking doesn’t need to be either commentary or allegory. Like Lanegan’s best work, it tells its own stories and weaves its own wonders, conjuring up feverish hallucinogenic visions to sit atop roughly hewn rock and glassy, brilliant bright electronics. And then it leaves them to penetrate their own ways right down to our deepest, darkest roots.
NMR (photo: press Mark Lanegan)