Greg Dulli – ‘Random Desire’

Jeff Cubbison

The Afghan Whigs frontman’s diverse solo LP is a culmination of a phenomenal career

One of the greatest musicians and songwriters of the past 30 years, The Afghan Whigs frontman Greg Dulli has maintained a marauding presence in the indie-rock world. With eight albums under his belt with The Afghan Whigs and seven with side project The Twilight Singers, Dulli is one of the most prolific artist out there, and somehow he never managed to put out an official solo album until now. That record, Random Desire (which is out now via Royal Cream/BMG), is a breathtakingly expansive and diverse effort, and a true culmination of all the great work Dulli has done throughout his sterling career.

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Toggling between fuzzy, propulsive garage-rock soundscapes and sleek, inventive production, Dulli brings a journeyman’s honesty to the album’s songwriting. Opener “Pantomima” is a kaleidoscopic track that rumbles along at a simmering piece, bolstered by boom-clap rhythms, staticky guitar noodling, and Dulli’s infectiously gravelly voice. Random Desire retains a reverb-soaked bombast all throughout, peppering more downtempo tracks like the spacey “Sempre” – whose frenetic percussion swirls in transfixing ways. Meanwhile, the heartfelt ballad “Marry Me” utilizes sparse acoustic notes and atmospheric slide guitars to buoy Dulli’s pained, confessional lyrics: “Liberated but I am not free/ The engine’s stalling but I cannot see/ Once you’re gone they’re gonna bury me/ I let you go.” From there the album oscillates between uptempo, pensive, and poignant with chameleonic ease.

Random Desire was written and recorded following Afghan Whigs guitarist Dave Rosser’s tragic death in 2017. The album finds Dulli going back to his teenage bedroom roots, utilizing a palette of one-man-band singer-songwriter rock sounds – from jangly piano-infused rippers to more sparse, meditative alt-folk cuts. There’s an auteuristic approach at work here that recalls luminaries like Prince and Todd Rundgren. All throughout this wide-ranging tapestry, Dulli draws on his wealth of rough-and-tumble life experiences and wisdom. Ultimately, Random Desire parses the ebb-and-flow nature of life and the perils of existence with all the wit and shrewdness that he’s managed to accumulate. It’s yet another triumph for the Hamilton, Ohio musical legend.

You can order Random Desire HERE, and sample it below.

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